Agenda Item No 7

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Standards Committee: 12th July 2018

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Review of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Local Dispute Resolution Procedure Following Consultation with Group Leaders

Purpose of the Report

  1. To report for Committee's consideration comments received in respect of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Local Dispute Resolution Procedure.

Recommendations

That the Standards Committee consider the comments received.

Reasons for the Recommendations

To seek Standards Committee approval.

Background

  1. On 11th April, 2014, the Standards Committee considered and agreed a Local Dispute Resolution Procedure to address low level complaints and breaches of the Members' Code of Conduct (the Code) and Protocol - Standards of Conduct Expected by Members, in response to Welsh Government and the former Public Services Ombudsman for Wales' concerns.  The Public Services Ombudsman guidance on the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Authorities had stated there was an expectation that Local Authorities throughout Wales would implement a Local Dispute Resolution Procedure to deal with low level complaints which were made by a Member against a fellow Member.  At the Full Council meeting on 25th June, 2014, a Local Dispute Resolution Procedure ('the Procedure') was duly approved and has been incorporated into the Council's Constitution.  As with the Council's Constitution generally, the Procedure is subject to review and changes can be proposed if considered appropriate (either by the Monitoring Officer or the Standards Committee itself).
  2. At its meeting in July 2016 the Standards Committee made the following resolutions:

(1)       That Stage 2 of the Local Dispute Resolution Procedure should not become mandatory.

(2)       That internal procedures relating to the Members' Code of Conduct be revised to provide that any complaint lodged under the Procedure be brought to the attention of the Member against whom the complaint has been lodged within seven working days of it being received by the Monitoring Officer. Furthermore, if a Member, in lodging a complaint, has identified a specific witness(es) whom they wish to call to give evidence, details of the complaint (redacted if considered necessary) should also be forwarded to the witness(es), the contents of the Guidance be noted.

  1.      (3)       That a future report be submitted to a future Standards Committee meeting following a review of the Welsh Local Authorities Local Dispute Resolution Procedures
  2. On 25th January, 2018, the Committee received a copy of a proposed revised procedure for consideration which included a copy of a procedural document to be used at Local Dispute Resolution Hearings (Local Dispute Resolution Procedure - Procedure to the Followed at Stage 3 Hearing) and an administrative procedure for dealing with Local Dispute Resolution process (Local Dispute Resolution Procedure - Procedure for Dealing With Paperwork and Timescales). 
  3. At the Committee meeting held on 22nd March, 2018, the revised documents were presented for consideration and it was resolved that following discussions with Group Leaders, delegated authority be granted to the Monitoring Officer, in conjunction with the Chairman, to amend any typographical errors and make any minor changes to the revised Procedure.

[Draft Procedure]

[Complaint Form]

[Procedure at Stage 3 Hearing]

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. All Group Leaders were consulted on the document via e-mail with comments being received as follows:

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. None as a direct result of this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None as a direct result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Procedure forms part of the Council's Constitution.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. None as a direct result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The report relates to the role of the Standards Committee to promote and maintain high standards of conduct of Members as detailed in the Council's Constitution.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for consideration by the Standards Committee in the first instance and if any changes to the Procedure are proposed, for consideration by Full Council thereafter.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Not applicable.

Background Papers

Contact Officer

Mrs. Karen Bowen, Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer, Tel: 01446 709856

Officers Consulted

Responsible Officer:

Ms. D. Marles, Monitoring Officer and Head of Legal and Democratic Services