STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 17th May, 2018.

 

Present:  Mr. A. Lane ( Chairman),  Mr. R. Hendicott; Mr. D. Carsley, Mrs. P. Hallett, Mrs. L. Tinsley (Independent Members); Councillor M. Cuddy (Town and Community Councillor Representative) and Councillors L. Burnett, R. Crowley and B.T. Gray.

 

 

32        APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN -

 

Mr. A. Lane was appointed Chairman of the Standards Committee for the current municipal year.

 

 

33        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -

 

Mr. R. Hendicott was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee for the current municipal year.

 

 

34        MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd March, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

35        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

Mr. D. Carsley declared an interest in Agenda Item 6, in that he was a personal friend of the applicant Councillor G. Kemp and would withdraw from the meeting when the application was being considered.

 

 

36        APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATION (MO) -

 

The Standards Committee Grant of Dispensation (Wales) Regulations 2001 permitted Members to apply to the Standards Committee to speak and if appropriate to vote on issues which due to a prejudicial interest, they may not otherwise be able to speak or vote on.

 

The following applications had been received for consideration:

 

  • Application for dispensation from Vale of Glamorgan Councillor G.C. Kemp to speak and vote at Vale of Glamorgan Council meetings on matters relating to Llancarfan Primary School (paragraphs (d), (e), (l) and (j))
  • Application for dispensation from Llangan Community Councillor P. Wilson to speak and vote at Llangan Community      Council meetings on matters relating to Treoes Allotments in connection with Saron Chapel (paragraphs (d), (e) and (f))
  • Application for dispensation from Llangan Community Councillor K.O.L. Jones to speak only at Llangan Community Council meetings on matters relating to the bund between Treoes allotments and Saron Chapel (paragraphs (f), (h) and (j))

 

Prior to the meeting Councillor Jones had informed the Democratic Services Officer that he wished his application to be withdrawn as the matter was no longer an issue for him.

 

Having considered the applications, it was subsequently

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T Vale of Glamorgan Councillor G.C. Kemp be granted dispensation to speak and vote at Vale of Glamorgan Council meetings on matters relating to Llancarfan Primary School until the next Local Government elections in compliance with paragraphs (d), and (i).

 

(2)       T H A T  Llangan Community Councillor P. Wilson be granted dispensation to speak only, at Llangan Community Council meetings on matters relating to Treoes Allotments in connection with  Saron Chapel in compliance with paragraph (f) of  the Standards Committee Grant of Dispensations (Wales) Regulations 2001 until the next Local Government elections.

 

(3)       T H A T the application by Councillor K Jones Llangan Community Council be noted as withdrawn.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1&2)  To comply with the Standards Committee Grant of Dispensations (Wales) Regulations 2001 governing applications for the grant of dispensations to speak and/or vote.

 

(3)       In light of the request from the Councillor that the application be withdrawn.

 

 

37        DELEGATED POWERS TO CONSIDER APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATION (MO) -

 

Members were apprised of an application that had been received for dispensation and the use of the Monitoring Officer’s delegated powers in consultation with the Chairman of the Standards Committee.

 

On 28th March, 2018 the Monitoring Officer received a dispensation application from Councillor Benjamin Gray to speak and vote on matters relating to the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Reshaping Services Strategy.  The application was for dispensation as a Vale of Glamorgan Elected Member and a Penarth Town Council Elected Member in order to be able to discuss matters regarding the Reshaping Services Strategy on both Councils when the matter arose.  Having been made aware that Councillor Gray was due to attend a meeting of the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee on 23rd April 2018 where matters relating to the Vale's Reshaping Services Strategy were to be discussed. Under delegated powers the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chairman granted the dispensation under paragraph (d) of the Standards Committee Grant of Dispensations Wales Regulations 2001.  The dispensation to speak and vote being granted until the date of the next Local Government Elections

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Monitoring Officer’s delegated power in consultation with the Chairman of the Standards Committee be noted and approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

To note the current situation and the compliance with delegated powers.

 

 

38        AUDIT REPORT - ETHICS 2017-18 (MO) -

 

The Monitoring Officer brought to the attention of the Committee the Audit Report in respect of Ethics which had been undertaken by the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) on behalf of the Council’s Internal Audit Shared Service (IASS) and which formed part of the Council’s 2017/18 Audit Plan.  The report had been brought before the Committee in recognition of its role to promote and maintain high standards.  The purpose of the Review itself had been to provide assurance that the Council was operating under high standards of ethical behaviour whilst also assessing the cultural climate in place at the Council.  A copy of the full report was attached at Appendix A to the report, with Committee being informed that the overall conclusion reached was that the Council had performed extensive work to redefine its ethical climate and culture with input and assistance of staff and as a consequence the Council was commended for the forward thinking approach to ethics and culture. 

 

Members of the Standards Committee welcomed the report and the comments contained therein particularly the references made to “key ethical documents (being) embedded within the Council including Codes of Conduct and a Standards Committee is in place and works in line with its Terms of Reference”.  The Committee 

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

In recognition of the Standards Committee’s role to promote and maintain high standards. 

 

 

39        INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF COMMUNITY AND TOWN COUNCILS (MO) -

 

As part of the Standards Committee Work Programme which had been agreed at the last meeting on 22nd March, 2018, a report had been requested to be presented to apprise Committee of the Independent Review that had been undertaken of the Community and Town Councils sectors in Wales.  The Panel had been commissioned by Welsh Government to undertake a review with the following remit:

 

  • To explore the potential role of local government below Principal Councils, to draw on best practice.
  • To define the most appropriate model(s)/structure(s) to deliver this role.
  • To consider how these models and structures should be applied across Wales.  This to include consideration of any situation to which they would not be necessary or appropriate.

 

All Group Leaders of the 22 local authorities in Wales had been advised of the impending Review which was to focus on what was required to ensure that the most local level of government was effective, efficient and delivering benefits to local communities. 

 

The Review commenced in July 2017 and the Council had been informed that to date the Panel had heard the views and gathered evidence from a range of stakeholders including Community and Town Councils themselves, local authorities, the Third Sector and key stakeholders including One Voice Wales, the Wales Audit Office, the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission and Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales. The Independent Review Panel findings and recommendations (if any) were scheduled to be published in the summer of 2018.

 

The Committee was further informed that at a recent meeting of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Community Liaison Committee on 21st March, 2018 an Independent Review Panel Member Ms Claire Germain, had attended to provide an overview of the purpose of the Review to Town and Community Councillors.  Bespoke regional workshops in partnership with the WLGA and local authorities had also been held in April 2018.

 

The Independent Review Panel findings and recommendations (if any) were scheduled to be published in the summer of 2018 and the Monitoring Officer advised that following the Review a copy of the report would be brought back to the Standards Committee for consideration.  Councillor M. Cuddy also advised Members that he was aware that all Local Authorities had been requested to complete a survey for the Panel and the Democratic Services Officer confirmed that the Vale of Glamorgan survey had been completed and returned.

 

It was subsequently

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To apprise Committee of the purpose of the Review that was being undertaken and to note that a report following the Review would be presented in due course.

 

 

40        ONGOING PUBLIC SERVICES FOR WALES OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATIONS  (MO) -

 

The purpose of the report was to provide Committee in Part II of the agenda with an overview of the ongoing investigations by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in respect of Members’ Code of Conduct complaints within the Vale of Glamorgan, it being noted that in addition to the Vale of Glamorgan Council there were 26 Town and Community Councils within the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

Committee was informed that the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales had legal powers to look into complaints about public services and independent care providers in Wales.  The Ombudsman could also look into complaints that local authority Members had breached their local authority’s Members’ Code of Conduct and was independent of all Government bodies.  It was noted that there were a number of ongoing investigations in relation to complaints regarding breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct which may be brought to the Committee’s attention but were confidential at this stage in line with the Ombudsman’s procedure.  The Monitoring Officer advised that she would provide an update to the Standards Committee in relation to such investigations under Part II of the agenda.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted being aware that an update was to be provided under the Part II report on the agenda.

 

Reason for decision

 

To apprise Members.

 

 

41        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 items of business on the grounds that they involve 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.

 

 

42        ONGOING PUBLIC SERVICES FOR WALES OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATIONS (MO) (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) -

 

The Monitoring Officer took the opportunity to apprise Members of the detail of a number of ongoing investigations that were being undertaken by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in respect of Members’ Code of Conduct complaints in the Vale of Glamorgan, it being noted that in addition to the Vale of Glamorgan Council there were 26 Town and Community Councils within the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

Committee was informed that should any investigation be made public then the reports would be presented and made available in the public domain. 

 

Although not providing the Committee with the specific detail in relation to each of the investigations the Monitoring Officer stated that she wanted to raise awareness of the number of issues given the remit of the Standards Committee..


During consideration of the report a Member of the Standards Committee enquired whether training for Vale of Glamorgan Town and Community Councillors was mandatory.  The Monitoring Officer advised that the Vale of Glamorgan Council had taken the view that Code of Conduct training was mandatory to be for Elected Members and advised that all 47 Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council had undertaken that training, however for Town and Community Councils it was a matter for individual Council’s to consider whether training, should be deemed mandatory but she was aware that a number had not made that decision.  

 

However, the Monitoring Officer took the opportunity to advise that the Vale of Glamorgan Council had purchased from One Voice Wales five sessions of Code of Conduct training for Members of Town and Community Councils in 2017 following the Local Government elections.  A number of Town and Community Councillors and Clerks had taken up that training with some Town and County Councils having made arrangements for their own bespoke training.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T all Town and Community Councils be reminded of the view of the  Standards Committee that all Town and Community Councillors and Clerks undertake Code of Conduct Training following Local Government  Elections.

 

(2)       T H A T the information provided by the Monitoring Officer be noted.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To advise Town and Community Councils that it is the role of the Standards Committee to promote and maintain high standards and that in their view Members’ Code of Conduct training was important.

 

(2)       Having regard to the ongoing investigations being undertaken by the Public Services’ Ombudsman for Wales.