Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, Reading, RG1 2LU

Contact: Michael Popham - Committee Services Email: (Michael.popham@reading.gov.uk)  (0118) 9372153

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the Meeting on 28 June 2018 pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

2.

Terms of Reference and Annual Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer submitted a report setting out the Standards Committee’s terms of reference and constitutional role for this Municipal Year and provided an update on developments and complaints during the previous year.  Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011 had ended the statutory standards regime and introduced a duty on local authorities to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by Councillors and Co-opted Members, including adopting a local Member code of conduct. The Act also required local authorities to adopt arrangements to deal with allegations that Members had breached the Code of Conduct, and gave them discretion to establish a local Standards Committee as part of this process.  The terms of reference and Standing Orders of the Committee were set out in Appendix A.

 

The report also had the local Member Code of Conduct attached at Appendix B, which was based on a good practice draft produced by the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors.  It set out the statutory requirement for Members to register and declare disclosable pecuniary and other interests.  The content of the code was open to each local authority to decide but must be consistent with the seven Nolan Principles, which were set out in the report at paragraph 4.2.  The Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure for the Standards Committee and the Committee itself formed the authority’s local arrangements to enable complaints about Councillors to be investigated.  The 3-stage local procedure was described in the “Complaints about Councillors” document, which was attached at Appendix C to the report and was available on the website.  The report stated that Local authorities were required to appoint an Independent Person who must be consulted on complaints about Members. 

 

With regard to the registration and declaration of interests by Members, there was a legal requirement on Members to register and declare interests.  Members could seek a dispensation from the Standards Committee to take part in decisions where they had a disclosable pecuniary interest.  However, the Committee would only grant a request for a dispensation where it was satisfied that one of the limited circumstances set out in paragraph 6.18 of the report applied.  Additionally, at the Annual Council Meeting on 22 May 2019, the delegation to the Monitoring Officer to grant a general dispensation to members of the authority was re-established. The circumstances when this could be done were set out in paragraph 6.20 of the report. In addition to declaring interests, Councillors must be aware of the common law principles of bias and predetermination. These may still apply, even if there was no personal interest.  The report stated an interest was personal to the Member; bias was an attitude of mind which prevented the decision maker acting objectively; and predetermination was making up your mind in advance of taking the decision.

 

The Planning Code of Conduct had been appended at Appendix D to this year’s report for information because it had been updated to reflect the Local Government Association’s Planning Code of Conduct guidance.  In addition,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.