Venue: Committee Room, First Floor, BCP Civic Centre Annex, St Stephen's Rd, Bournemouth BH2 6LL. View directions
To receive any apologies for absence from Members.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors A Filer, A Jones, L Northover and V Ricketts.
To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.
Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.
Formal notification had been received appointing Councillor D Flagg as substitute for Councillor V Ricketts.
Declarations of Interests
Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.
Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.
Councillor D Borthwick and Councillor D Kelsey both declared an interest in Complaint Reference BCP121 and advised the Committee that should that complaint be discussed they would leave the meeting during consideration of the item.
To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution, which is available to view at the following link:-
The deadline for the submission of public questions is 4 clear working days before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a public statement is midday the working day before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.
The Committee was advised of the receipt of two Public Statements.
Public Statement from Mr Alexander McKinstry
I was appalled, studying today's report, to see councillors treating this Committee almost like an afterthought. One subject councillor overlooked three letters from this Committee (including the outcome letter) and is now introducing "fresh evidence" six months down the line. In Complaint 108, the councillor announced she "would not be available" for this Committee, while in 126, the councillor used a publicly-funded officer to discuss the complaint, then did not attend a related meeting. Full Council (21 March) looks to tighten up response times to this Committee; I certainly think this would be a step in the right direction.
Public Statement from Ms Sarah Boyce
Cllr Filer stated at a meeting of this Committee last year that some councillors seemed to be treating Standards as a game. She pointed out too how the Committee tended to deal with serious complaints only, since an initial assessment is conducted by the Monitoring Officer. It reflects very poorly on this Council, therefore, to see how several councillors have failed to comply with sanctions imposed by this Committee recently, and in the absence of any compelling new evidence, notices of non-compliance at the next Council might be the best way of resolving these complaints.
This report provides Members with an update on complaints regarding alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct against Councillors received or concluded since the last meeting in July 2021.
The Committee is responsible for maintaining high standards of conduct by Members of BCP Council and the Town and Parish Councils, monitoring the operation of the Code of Conduct, and considering the outcome of commissioned independent investigations.
The report also brings to the attention of Standards Committee, a number of complaints made under the Code of Conduct for Councillors as set out in Part 6 of the BCP Council Constitution. In line with the provisions of Part 6 Appendix C of the Constitution, the Chair, in consultation with the members of the Committee, the Independent Persons and the Monitoring Officer has followed an informal resolution process for each of these complaints. This has not resulted in the successful conclusion of the complaints. This report asks the Committee to consider the next steps including a potential report to Council about the role and status of Standards at BCP Council.
The Committee received the regular schedule of completed and ongoing complaints against Councillors with cases shown as closed in the previous report removed from the list. It was noted that, although it had only been a period of just over a week since the last meeting of the Committee, an informal consultation meeting had taken place and progress was noted.
It was particularly noted that Complaint Reference BCP121 had been deferred and would be considered at the next meeting of the Committee.
The adopted arrangements for dealing with allegations of breach of the Code of Conduct were set out. These included the arrangements for initial assessment by the Monitoring Officer and the process for determination of complaints by the Chair of the Standards Committee in consultation with Councillors of the Standards Committee and the Independent Persons.
The Committee reviewed the table of complaints setting out, in each case, the nature of the complaint and, where applicable, the Monitoring Officer’s assessment, the decision of the Chair and the current status of the complaint.
The report highlighted a number of complaints where Councillors had not complied with a determination made by the Chair of the Standards Committee following the process of informal resolution. The differing circumstances in respect of each of the quoted complaints were set out within the agenda and explained. Specifically this related to complaints under references BCP 97; 105; 108; 110 and 126.
Committee were made aware that should they wish to receive further detail on any of the complaints in addition to the information provided in the report this could be provided in confidential (exempt) business. Members of the Committee confirmed, however, that they were familiar with the facts in each case. The Committee nevertheless expressed its concerns about the delay in resolving complaints and obtaining responses from subject Councillors all of which was highlighted as being particularly unfair on the public waiting to hear resolution of their complaints.
The report presented a range of options for addressing delays and the consequential undermining of the role and standing of the Standards Committee. It was particularly noted that a number of the individual complaints reported as unresolved were the result of Councillors not accepting a determination made at the informal resolution stage.
After discussion it was proposed by Councillor M Andrews and seconded by Councillor D Kelsey
RESOLVED that, in respect of complaint references BCP 105; 108; 110 and 126, a report on non-compliance by the individual subject Councillors be made to the meeting of full Council on 21 March 2023 subject to each of the subject Councillors affected being given an opportunity to make a public apology at the commencement of the Council meeting and subject also to the apology also being submitted in writing ahead of the meeting.
Voting - Unanimous
The Independent Persons present at the meeting indicated their support for this approach and underlined the loss of public credibility that was being caused by non-compliance.
The Committee also discussed the question of how an apology ... view the full minutes text for item 31.