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Agenda Item No.4

 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Standards Committee: 31st July 2014

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Allegations of Failure to Observe the Members' Code of Conduct Made Against Community Councillor Lino Scaglioni of Sully and Lavernock Community Council

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         Standards Committee is requested to consider the allegations made against Community Councillor Lino Scaglioni of failure to observe the Sully and Lavernock Community Council's Code of Conduct.  After considering representations, Committee is requested to make its determinations in line with Regulation 9(1) of the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001 ("2001 Regulations").

Recommendations

1.         That Standards Committee makes its determinations in line with Regulation 9(1) of the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001, in respect of the allegations detailed in paragraph 5 of this report.

2.         That the Standards Committee notifies relevant parties in line with Regulation 9(3) of the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001.

Reason for the Recommendations

1&2  To comply with the provisions of the 2001 Regulations.

 

Background

2.         At its meeting on 11th April 2014, Standards Committee resolved  as follows:

(1)          T H A T Community Councillor C be given the opportunity to make representations at a future meeting of the Standards Committee, either orally or in writing, in respect of the findings of the investigation and any complaint that he had failed, or may have failed, to comply with the Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.

(2)          T H A T the Acting Public Services Ombudsman for Wales’ Investigation Officer be requested to attend the Standards Committee in line with Regulations 8(3A) and 8(3C) of the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001. 

3.         Attached at Appendix A is a copy of the Acting Ombudsman's Investigation Report ('Investigation Report') in respect of a complaint received on 6th February.  As various appendices contained in the Investigation Report contain emails and letters which bear the personal email or postal address of the sender or the recipient these have been redacted. However a master-copy of the Investigating Report has been retained. 

4.         A copy of the complaint as made to the Acting Ombudsman is attached at Appendix 1 to the Investigation Report.

5.         Having considered the complaint, it was the conclusion of the Investigating Officer that it was appropriate whether there was any evidence to show that Councillor Scaglioni may have failed to comply with any of the following provisions of the Code of Conduct:

(a)   Paragraph 4(b): You must show respect and consideration for others.

(b)   Paragraph 6(1)(a): You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.

(c)   Paragraph 7(a): You must not in your official capacity or otherwise, use or attempt to use your position improperly to confer on or secure for yourself, or any other person, an advantage or create or avoid for yourself, or any other person, a disadvantage.

(d)   Paragraph 7(b): You must not use, or authorise others to use, the resources of your authority improperly for (v) political or (vi) private purposes.

6.         The analysis of the evidence is set out at pages 21 and 22 of the Investigation Report, and the conclusions of the Acting Ombudsman's investigation are summarised below:

·           There is insufficient evidence to support the allegation that Councillor Scaglioni's management of the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association ("SLRA") website engaged paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code, either in relation to Councillor Mahoney or others (paragraph 95 refers).

·           With regard to possible braches of paragraphs 7(a) or 7(b) of the Code, there is insufficient evidence to support the view that Councillor Scaglioni was seeking to disadvantage Councillor Mahoney or deny him access to Council business (paragraph 99 refers).

·           The impact of Article 10 and recent case law in relation to verbal exchanges between members has been considered, where it has been established that members must expect robust and sometimes even offensive exchanges within the context of political debate.  There is insufficient information from the minutes of meetings to come to the view that verbal exchanges between the parties may have exceeded the threshold (paragraph 101 refers).

·           The contents of Councillor Scaglioni's emails (dated 25 September 2012, 13 December 2012, 18 December 2012 and 4 January 2013) as outlined in paragraph 69 could be viewed as inappropriate, and I therefore believe that they may be suggestive of breaches under paragraphs 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Code (paragraph 113 refers).

·           However, this is a matter for the Council to decide, namely whether they feel the comments in Councillor Scaglioni's emails were remarks which were "political" in nature and therefore attract the protection of Article 10(1) or whether they were an attack on the reputation or rights of Councillor Mahoney, in which case they do not attract protection and therefore may be viewed as breaches of the Code (paragraph 114 refers).

7.         Attached at Appendix B is a copy of the 'Procedure for Dealing with Allegations made against Councillors and referred to the Standards Committee'.  Paragraph 8.4 of the Procedure requires the Standards Officer to provide specified information to the Members of the Committee, Councillor Scaglioni and the Investigating Officer.  This information is provided at Appendix C to the report.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.         In line with the 2001 Regulations, after considering any oral or written representations made by or on behalf of Councillor Scaglioni, Standards Committee must determine:

·           That there is no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code of Conduct of the relevant Authority and that therefore no action needs to be taken in respect of the matters which are the subject of the investigation;

·           That a Member or co-opted member (or former Member or co-opted member) of a relevant Authority has failed to comply with the relevant Authority's Code of Conduct but that no action needs to be taken in respect of that failure;

·           That a Member or co-opted member (or former Member or co-opted member) of the relevant Authority has failed to comply with the Authority's Code of Conduct and should be censured, or

·           That a Member or co-opted member of a relevant Authority has failed to comply with the Authority's Code of Conduct and should be suspended or partially suspended from being a Member or co-opted member of that Authority for a period not exceeding six months.

9.         The Standards Committee is required to notify Councillor Scaglioni, any persons who made the allegations which gave rise to the investigation and the Ombudsman of its decisions together with reasons for the decisions.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.      None.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.      None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.      The Standards Committee is required to comply with the 2001 Regulations.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.      None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.      None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.      None.

Policy Framework and Budget

16.      None.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.      The report does not require consultation with other parties.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.      Not applicable.

Background Papers

Report by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales on an investigation into allegations against Councillor Lino Scaglioni of Sully and Lavernock Community Council dated 19th February 2014.

 

Contact Officer

Ms. D. Marles - Tel. No. (01446) 709401

 

Officers Consulted

None.

 

Responsible Officer:

Ms. D. Marles, Monitoring Officer

 

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