STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 23rd November, 2017.

 

Present:  Mr. A. Lane (Chairman); Mr. D. Carsley (Vice-Chairman), Mrs. P. Hallett, and Mrs. L. Tinsley (Independent Members); Councillor M. Cuddy (Town and Community Council Representative) and Councillors B.T Gray and Mrs. R. Nugent-Finn (Vale of Glamorgan Councillors).

 

 

475     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Mr R Hendicott (Independent Member) and Councillor Mrs. A. Moore (Vale of Glamorgan Councillor).

 

 

476     MINUTES –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 21st September, 2017 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

477     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

478     CODE OF CONDUCT TRAINING 2017 – VALE OF GLAMORGAN TOWN AND COMMUNITY COUNCILS AND CO-OPTED MEMBERS OF THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (MO) –

 

The report provided an update on the training that had been provided for Members of Vale of Glamorgan Town and Community Councils and Clerks and Co-opted Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that under the Terms of Reference of the Standards Committee there was a requirement to promote and maintain high standards of conduct and advise, train or arrange to train Councillors, Co-opted Members and Church and Parent Governor representatives on matters relating to the Members’ Code of Conduct. 

 

The report noted that following the Local Government elections on 4th May, 2017 training on the Members’ Code of Conduct had been provided to all Elected Vale of Glamorgan Councillors between 16th May to 6th June, 2017.  At the Standards Committee meeting on 1st June, 2017 it was resolved that training for Members of Vale of Glamorgan Town and Community Councils, including Clerks, would be delivered by the organisation One Voice Wales with five training sessions  arranged. 

 

The Monitoring Officer further advised that she had attended each of the five training sessions to introduce herself, explain the role of the Monitoring Officer, to address any queries arising during the training sessions, to explain the process and circumstances enabling the grant of dispensations to Members and the approach adopted in the Vale of Glamorgan Council regarding gifts and hospitality. 

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was a list of the number of Members that had attended the training together with comments received from a number of Clerks advising of the unavailability of some Members to attend the training and where training had been undertaken elsewhere.  Verbal feedback from the five training sessions had been very positive and copies of the evaluation forms were currently being collated and would be the subject of a report to the next Standards Committee meeting.

 

Committee was advised that Section 54 of the Local Government Act 2000 and the functions of the Standards Committee as detailed in its terms of reference and referred to (in part) in paragraph 2 of the report, related to Co-opted Members of the Council.  For clarification, the reference to Church and Parent Governor representatives related to such representatives that were co-opted onto a Council's Committee. The three co-opted Members on the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee had received Members' Code of Conduct training from the Monitoring Officer on 16th October, 2017 and the co-opted Lay Member for the Audit Committee had attended the One Voice Wales training session on 14th November, 2017.

 

For Committee's information, the Monitoring officer advised that the Council's Governor Support Unit and the Central South Consortium provided training on a number of matters, which included the principles of conduct to Church and Governor representatives who sat on Governing Bodies in the Vale of Glamorgan. The monitoring officer could also confirm that following consultation with Monitoring Officers from Welsh Unitary Authorities a number of Councils had advised that they adopted the same approach as the Vale of Glamorgan Council with regard to training Church and Governor representatives which were: 

  • Conwy
  • Denbighshire
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Blaneau Gwent
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Wrexham
  • Monmouthshire and
  • Flintshire.

No response to date had been received from the remaining Monitoring Officers.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be presented to the Standards Committee following analysis of the evaluation feedback forms from the One Voice Wales training sessions.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members and in recognition of the fact that an evaluation feedback report would be presented to the next meeting of the Standards Committee.

 

 

479     APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATIONS GRANTED, SEPTEMBER 2012 – JULY 2017 (MO) –

 

The Monitoring Officer commenced by advising that the purpose of the report was to apprise Committee of dispensations granted for the above period and Appendix 1 to the report detailed the Vale of Glamorgan Councillors’ dispensations granted from 4th September, 2012 to 13th July, 2017.  Appendix 2 detailed the Town and Community Councils’ dispensations granted from 4th September, 2012 to 21st September, 2017.

 

The Appendices also provided details of the paragraphs pursuant to the Regulations that the Standards Committee granted the dispensations under.  A copy of the application form and the criteria for granting dispensations was attached for information at Appendix 3 to the report.

 

It was noted that there were no applications for dispensations on the Committee’s agenda for the meeting, but Members were reminded that prior to each meeting of the Standards Committee the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer contacts via e-mail all the Town and Community Councils and Vale of Glamorgan Council Members to advise them of the forthcoming meeting should any dispensations wish to be sought. 

 

Members of the Committee were grateful for the information which the new Members stated gave them good examples of previous dispensations granted as a basis for the future.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

In recognition of the information contained therein.

 

 

480     PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN FOR WALES ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2016/17 (MO) –

 

In presenting the report to the Committee, the Monitoring Officer drew Members’ attention to pages 1-26 of the Annual Report which were attached at Appendix 1 to the report, the pages of which provided a snapshot of the year 2016/17, the volume of complaints received and complaints caseload, the nature of complaints received, breakdown of outcomes and decision time data.  Annex B to the Annual Report, attached as Appendix 2, provided details of Code of Conduct complaints that had been closed, with a statistical breakdown of outcomes by Local Authority.  The full Annual Report had not been reproduced in its entirety as the remaining sections referred primarily to internal governance arrangements and financial matters.  However, the link to the full Annual Report could be found at

http://www.ombudsman-wales.org.uk/~/media/Files/AnnualReports_en/Annual%20Report%20and%20Accounts%20201617%20E.ashx

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17 be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

Having considered the contents contained therein.

 

 

481     ADJUDICATION PANEL FOR WALES ANNUAL REPORT 2014/15 – 2015/16 (MO) –

 

The Adjudication Panel for Wales (APW) was an independent tribunal set up to determine alleged breaches of an Authorities' Statutory Members' Code of Conduct by elected and co-opted Members of Welsh County, County Borough and Community Councils, Fire and National Park Authorities.

 

The APW had two statutory functions in relation to breaches of the Members' Code of Conduct: 

  • to form case or interim case tribunals to consider references from the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales following the investigation of allegations that a Member has failed to comply with their Authority's Members' Code of Conduct and
  • to consider appeals from Members against the decisions of Local Authority Standards Committees that they may have breached the Members' Code of Conduct.

The APW Report was attached at Appendix 1 to the report, section 2 (at page 7) provided details of the performance and progress from 2011 to 2016 and detailed the number of references and appeals that had been received each year.  Summaries of case tribunal hearings could be found at Section 3 (pages 11-14) of the APW Report.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the Adjudication Panel for Wales Annual Report 2014/15 – 2015/16 be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

Having regard to the contents contained therein.

 

 

482     STANDARDS COMMITTEE FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME (MO) –

 

The Monitoring Officer presented a draft Forward Work Programme for Committee’s consideration for the remainder of the current Administrative year, it being noted that the Forward Work Programme for the Municipal Year 2018/19 would be presented to the March 2018 meeting.

 

In considering the report, the Monitoring Officer advised that she would be happy to receive any further suggestions for future reports if Members so wished.  

 

In referring to the Members’ Code of Conduct Complaints Report listed for the January 2018 it was noted that this would be a Part I and Part II item. With regard to the item “Observations of Committee meetings”, for the March meeting, the Monitoring Officer took the opportunity to suggest to Members that this may be a useful approach for all Members to observe some of the Council’s Committee meetings and to show a presence to Vale of Glamorgan Members and the public. 

 

The Monitoring Officer would also inform all Members of the Council that the observations would be undertaken as part of the Work Programme of the Standards Committee.

 

Following agreement of the suggested work programme it was

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the Forward Work Programme attached at Appendix 1 to the report be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

In order that a Forward Work Programme for the Standards Committee was approved.

 

 

483     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

484     LOCAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURE – HEARINGS (MO) –

 

Standards Committee Members were apprised of two forthcoming Local Dispute Resolution Procedure hearings under the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Local Dispute Resolution Procedure (“the Procedure”) as outlined in the Council’s Constitution.

 

Recognising that the Chairman of the Standards Committee had a delegated power to nominate an Independent Member to undertake hearings under the Procedure, Committee was informed that the Chairman had determined that Mrs. P. Hallett would undertake the forthcoming hearings. It was noted that hearings at Stage 3 were held in private and that there was also no right of appeal against the decision made by the Independent Member at Stage 3 of the Procedure.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the schedule for the forthcoming hearings be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a report detailing the Independent Member’s decisions be reported for information to the next meeting of the Standards Committee.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members.