Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee
Tuesday, 14th January, 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: HMS Phoebe, Town Hall, Bournemouth BH2 6DY. View directions

Contact: Bob Hanton  Email: democratic.services@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

11.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from Members.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor A Filer. Apologies were also received from Independent Persons, Mr P Cashmore and Mr J Storey.

 

The Monitoring Officer reported the receipt of apologies from Councillor L Lewis who was unable to attend due to a personal bereavement. Councillor G Farquhar attended to answer any questions on her behalf.

12.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are required to comply with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 and the Council's Code of Conduct regarding Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

Councillors are also required to disclose any other interests where a Councillor is a member of an external body or organisation where that membership involves a position of control or significant influence, including bodies to which the Council has made the appointment in line with the Council's Code of Conduct.

Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

13.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 306 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 9 July 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 9 July 2019 were confirmed as a correct record.

14.

Public Issues

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/documents/s2305/Public%20Items%20-%20Meeting%20Procedure%20Rules.pdf 

The deadline for the submission of public questions is 7 January 2020.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is 12.00 noon, 13 January 2020.

The deadline for the submission of a petition is 12.00 noon,13 January 2020.

Minutes:

Mr Conor O'Luby made the following statement.

 

"After a period spanning two years, and following two Ombudsman rulings, BCP Council has admitted to serious failings in the process regarding my complaint against Cllr Mike Greene. Whilst this is to be welcomed, two matters remain of great concern: 1) that no-one is to be held accountable for these failings; 2) that yet again, the new investigation has failed to address the key fact that I was misquoted a number of times. I am thus left doubting whether anything of substance has actually changed, despite promises to the contrary."

 

15.

Consideration of report in respect of complaint about a councillor pdf icon PDF 133 KB

This Report provides the Standards Committee with the conclusions of the investigation following complaints made about Councillor Lisa Lewis. The investigator’s report is attached at Appendix A. The conclusion of the investigator is that Councillor Lewis did not breach the Code of Conduct, as she was not acting in the capacity of a councillor when sending the relevant tweet which resulted in the complaints.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report and conclusions of an investigation into a complaint relating to Cllr L Lewis and a copy of the appointed Independent Investigator’s Report was circulated with the agenda. The Investigator had undertaken a comprehensive appraisal and assessment based upon the current legal framework and the parameters imposed by the Code of Conduct and including interviews with the complainants and with the councillor concerned.

 

Cllr Farqhuar, on behalf of Cllr Lewis, apologised again on her behalf for unavoidable non-attendance and highlighted that she had sincerely apologised in relation to the matter complained of.

 

The overall conclusion of the Investigator was that Cllr Lewis had not breached the Code of Conduct because she was not acting in the capacity of a Councillor when she took the action that resulted in the complaints.

 

Whilst fully accepting the conclusions in this case, consideration was given to the wider issues of how councillors made use of social media. The Chairman reminded members of the useful and informative training which had recently been provided albeit that there had been a low turnout from councillors. The training underlined the importance for councillors of thinking very carefully about the way in which they use social media and the implications of their social media activity. It was suggested that the training session should be repeated on the day of the next Council meeting, immediately before the meeting, and that the Standards Committee should very strongly recommend that all councillors attended.

 

RESOLVED

 

(a) That the recommendations of the Independent Investigator into the complaints against Cllr L Lewis and the conclusion that she was not acting in her capacity as a Councillor when she took the action that resulted in the complaints, be accepted and that no further action be taken;

(b) That the previously organised training session on the use by councillors of social media be repeated at a time immediately before a Council meeting and that all Councillors who did not attend on a previous occasion be strongly recommended by the Standards Committee to attend.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

16.

Code of Conduct Complaints – Review pdf icon PDF 158 KB

This report provides Members with an update on complaints regarding alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct against councillors received since 1 April 2019.

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.

Minutes:

The Committee received an update on complaints received regarding alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct against councillors since 1 April 2019. The schedule of items included cases that were closed and those where investigations were pending or on-going. Assurances were provided that complaints were dealt with properly and in accordance with set timelines and processes.

The Committee was reminded of its responsibility for maintaining high standards of conduct by Members of BCP Council and the Town and Parish Councils and for monitoring the operation of the Code of Conduct.

 

It was reported that the exercise of identifying training needs had been undertaken and resulted in the identification of themes which had been addressed through provision of both targeted and generalised training. A full report of training undertaken during the period and levels of attendance would be reported to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the outcome of concluded complaints and the progress of those still ongoing be noted.

 

Voting: Unanimous

17.

Declarations of Interest - Guidance Flowchart pdf icon PDF 320 KB

The Standards Committee is responsible for ethical governance and promoting high standards of conduct of councillors. This report was deferred from the previous meeting of the committee to allow the flowchart to be redrafted in consultation with the committee members.

This report seeks the approval of the revised guidance flowchart, which aims to assist councillors determine whether they have a declarable interest and whether participation at a meeting would be appropriate.

Minutes:

In recognition of its responsibility for ethical governance and promoting high standards of conduct, the Committee received a report setting out guidance to assist councillors in determining whether they have a declarable interest in a particular matter and whether their participation at a meeting would be appropriate. It was explained that the matter had been deferred at the previous meeting of the committee to allow the flowchart to be redrafted in consultation with the members of the Committee.

The report sought approval of the revised guidance flowchart and the intention was that the flowchart would be attached to the agenda for all meetings to ensure that councillors were always fully aware of the obligations placed upon them. The Committee welcomed and fully supported this approach.

 

RESOLVED

That the declaration of interest guidance flowchart be approved and  included on all meeting agenda front sheets to serve as a reminder and guidance for councillors and that, in order to point councillors to the flowchart, the wording of the standard agenda item be such as to specifically invite councillors to make any declarations in accordance with and with reference to the flowchart.