Agenda and minutes

Venue: Springfields, Towcester, Northants NN12 6AE

Contact: Natasha Clark, Democratic and Elections  Email: natasha.clark@cherwellandsouthnorthants.gov.uk, 01295 221589

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chairman for the Municipal Year 2012-2013

Minutes:

Resolved

 

That Councillor Robin Digby be appointed Chairman of the Standards Committee for the municipal year 2012-2013.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman for the Municipal Year 2012-2013

Minutes:

Resolved

 

That Councillor Stephen Hollowell be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee for the municipal year 2012-2013.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to declare any interest and the nature of that interest which they may have in any of the items under consideration at this meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting of the former Standards Committee held on 13 June 2012.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting of the former Standards Committee held on 13 June 2012 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

5.

Urgent Business

The Chairman to advise whether they have agreed to any item of urgent business being admitted to the topics for discussion.

 

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

6.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive announcements from the Chairman.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman had no announcements but took the opportunity to welcome Members to the new Standards Committee.

7.

Co-Option of Town/Parish Council Members pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Report of Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer

 

Minutes:

The Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer submitted a report which enabled the Committee to co-opt two Town and Parish Councillors to the Committee and to agree the process for co-opting a third member. 

 

In introducing the report, the Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer explained that when Full Council approved the establishment of the new Standards Committee, it agreed it should comprise five South Northamptonshire Council elected Members of this Council and three co-opted Town and Parish Councillors. This would enable the standing members of the Committee to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of experienced Town and Parish Councillors.

 

Members noted that the role of the Town and Parish Councillor on the Committee would be different to that under the previous standards regime as it was no longer possible for Town and Parish Councillors to be full members of the Committee and they would therefore be co-opted as non-voting members.

 

In terms of appointing Town and Parish Councillors, the Committee endorsed the proposal of the Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer that the two former Standards Committee Town and Parish Councillor Members, Councillor Jacqueline Hart (Towcester Town Council) and Councillor Peter Byng (Silverstone Parish Council) be co-opted onto the new Standards Committee as non-voting members with immediate effect.

 

The Committee agreed that the most appropriate method of identifying a third Town or Parish Councillor for co-option at a future date would be for the Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer to write to the Town and Parish Council Clerks in the District (excluding Towcester Town Council and Silverstone Parish Council given there were already co-opted Members from these councils on the Committee) to seek expressions of interest from individual Councillors for consideration. Expressions of interest would be considered by the Head of Law of Governance/Monitoring Officer, Chairman and Vice-Chairman who would recommend a further co-optee to the Committee.

 

Resolved

 

  1. That Councillor Jacqueline Hart and Councillor Peter Byng be appointed as co-opted members of the Committee with immediate effect.

 

  1. That the proposed way forward for identifying a third Town or Parish Councillor for co-option be agreed.

 

8.

Appointment of Independent Persons - Update pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Report of Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer

Minutes:

The Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer submitted a report which enabled the Committee to receive an update on the progress to date of the necessary appointment of two Independent Persons. 

 

The Committee was reminded that it was a legal requirement of the new Standards regime for at least one independent person to be appointed by the Council. At the 19 June 2012 full Council meeting, Members had resolved that two Independent Persons be appointed at a future date on the recommendation of a panel comprising two members of the new Standards Committee plus the Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer.

 

The panel, comprising Councillors Ann Addison and Robin Digby and the Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer, had met on Wednesday 3 October to consider the applications that had been received by the Council pursuant to the vacancies being advertised. The Panel Members reported that the applications received had been of a very high calibre and after a lengthy deliberation, they had agreed to recommend the appointment of Dr Sadie Reynolds and Mr Robert Matthews.

 

The Committee agreed that the terms of office for the Independent Persons should not be the same to ensure continuity and to avoid a period with potentially no Independent Persons being in position. It was further agreed that the appointments should be tied in to the municipal year to enable future appointments to be made at Annual Council as required. Accordingly the terms of officer for Dr Reynolds and Mr Matthews should expire at the end of the 2016/17 and 2015/16 Municipal Years respectively.

 

Resolved

 

  1. That the verbal update on the appointment of Independent Persons be noted.

 

R1

 

 

 

R2

 
 

  1. That Full Council be recommended to appoint Dr Sadie Reynolds as an Independent Person for a term of office to expire at the end of the Municipal Year 2016/2017.

 

  1. That Full Council be recommended to appoint Mr Robert Matthews as an Independent Person for a term of office to expire at the end of the Municipal Year 2015/2016.

9.

Revised Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Report of Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer submitted a report which enabled the Committee to consider the contents of the revised Code of Conduct recently adopted by Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) and to recommend it to full Council for adoption. 

 

The Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer reminded Members that on the recommendation of the former Standards Committee, at its 19 June 2012 meeting Full Council had adopted the code of conduct then being adopted by Northamptonshire County Council. At that time, both the former Standards Committee and Full Council had been advised that the code was imperfect in that it contained provisions relating to personal interests which overlapped, and to some extent contradicted, the new provisions relating to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests which formed a mandatory component of the code. Accordingly it was anticipated that a revised version of the code would be drafted.

 

The Committee was advised that Northamptonshire County Council had recently adopted a revised version of the Code. The SNC version contained  minor amendments to the NCC code to reflect the lack of individual Member decision making at SNC and recent guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government that made it clear that it was no longer permissible to address a meeting prior to the start of the debate where a disclosable pecuniary interest was held but public participation was permitted. 

 

In considering the revised Code, Members noted that whilst it repeated most of the provisions of the current code, in lieu of the personal interest provisions formerly included, it contained new provisions relating to non-statutory disclosable interests and included a section relating to gifts and hospitality.

 

The Committee agreed that given that the NCC revised code now contained clear provisions that were fully consistent with the regulations relating to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests it should be recommended to Full Council for adoption in lieu of the version of the Code previously adopted. Members agreed that a further amendment to the NCC code should be made in relation to the declaration of gifts and hospitality with the threshold for the declaration of such items should be £50 rather than £25 as in the NCC code.

 

The Committee also agreed that that all Town and Parish Council Clerks in the Council’s area should be notified of this new version of the Code and requested to put it forward to their respective Councils for adoption. 

 

In response to Members’ questions, the Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer confirmed that District, Town and Parish Councillors would not be required to complete a revised Register of Interests form as this only related to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests which remained unchanged from the original code.

 

Resolved

 

  1.  

    R3

     

     

     

     

     
    That Full Council be recommended to adopt the Code of Conduct set out in the annex to these minutes as set out in the minute book as a revised version of the current Code of Conduct.

 

  1. That the Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer be requested  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Arrangements for Dealing with Complaints of Councillor Misconduct pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Report of Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer submitted a report which enabled the Committee to endorse, or amend as it saw fit, the arrangements for dealing with complaints of Councillor misconduct introduced by the Head of Law and Governance/Monitoring Officer under the delegated authority given to him by full Council on 19 June 2012. The arrangements and standards complaints form had been introduced with effect from 1 July 2012.

 

Resolved

 

  1. That the arrangements for dealing with complaints of Member misconduct and the standard complaints form be endorsed.

11.

Determination of Dispensation Requests pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Report of Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer

 

Minutes:

The Head of Law and Governance / Monitoring Officer submitted a report which enabled the Committee to agree to the proposed method of dealing with requests for dispensation pursuant to Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011.

 

The Committee was advised that under the provisions of the Localism Act 2011, as incorporated in the Council’s Adopted Code of Conduct, a Councillor with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest must refrain from participation in the discussion and vote on any matter to which the Interest applies. It was, however, possible for a Councillor to seek a dispensation from either or both of these restrictions on certain grounds. Dispensation applications from SNC Councillors would be determined by the Standards Committee while applications from Town and Parish Councillors would be determined by the relevant Town and Parish concerned.

 

In considering the report, Members noted that whilst it was not yet clear how many dispensation applications might be submitted by SNC Councillors it was clear that the adoption of a procedure whereby the Committee needed to determine every dispensation application would become impracticable given the likely frequency with which the Committee will be meeting.

 

The Committee agreed that authority be delegated to the Head of Law and Governance/Monitoring Officer to determine dispensation applications in consultation with one of the Independent Persons.  In the event that Head of Law and Governance/Monitoring Officer considered it appropriate to refer a dispensation application to the Committee for consideration, this could be done. 

 

Resolved

 

  1. That authority be delegated to the Head of Law and Governance/Monitoring Officer in consultation with one of the Independent Persons to determine applications for dispensation submitted by Councillors of South Northamptonshire Council pursuant to Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011.