Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Media

Items
No. Item

11/20

Apologies for absence and substitutions

Minutes:

There were no apologies.

12/20

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

13/20

Urgent matters

To consider any items of business, other than those shown on this agenda and which, by reason of special circumstances to be stated at the meeting, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.

 

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

14/20

Minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 215 KB

The Chair will move that the minutes of the meeting be signed as a correct record. The only part of the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2020 were confirmed by the committee as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

15/20

Gifts and Hospitality Report pdf icon PDF 236 KB

Contact Officer:        Fiona Thomsen

 

The report provides information on gifts and hospitality recorded in the hospitality registers for the review in the last year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer introduced the Gifts and Hospitality report which provided an overview of the Member’s Gifts and Hospitality Register as at 30 October 2020.

 

It was noted that the council currently complied with best practice recommendations issued by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

 

The Monitoring Officer suggested that the committee receive a review of the register on an annual basis, however this was rejected and instead agreed that the committee receive future reports on an exception only basis in relation to any questionable declared receipts of gifts or hospitality.

 

The Monitoring Officer agreed to establish and commit to a practice of more regular review of the register.

 

Resolved:     the Committee

 

·         Note the report;

·         Agree to receive future reports on an exception only basis; and

·         Note that councillors will continue to be reminded by the Monitoring Officer of their responsibility to complete declarations of gifts and hospitality.

 

16/20

Social Media Guidance for Councillors pdf icon PDF 229 KB

Contact Officer:        Fiona Thomsen

 

The draft guidance is brought to Committee for consideration as part of the consultation in connection with the preparation of the guidance. It is intended to form part of the council’s constitution and will be inserted into Part 5, which is the Codes and Protocol section, once it has been approved by Council.

 

Following consultation, the guidance will be brought back to the March meeting of the Committee to recommend adoption by Council.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer introduced the draft Social Media Guidance for Councillors report. 

 

It was reported that the guidance was intended to form part of the council’s constitution to be included within Part 5 (Codes and Protocol section), once approved by Council.

 

It was noted that the use of social media was currently quite a vague area with determined on a case by case basis as to whether individuals have acted in either the capacity of a private citizen or as a councillor. Introduction of the Local Government Association’s new Model Code of Conduct would create a rebuttable assumption that any use of social media would be in the capacity of a councillor. 

 

It was clarified that breach of the guidance would not result in a breach of the Code but would instead assist as evidence when determining any complaints against members.

 

Members of the Committee made the following comments and suggestions:

 

·         Additional examples of incorrect use of social media were requested;

·         It was suggested that rather than encouraging councillors to abide by the guidance with the term ‘Should’, the word ‘Must’ would be more appropriate; and

·         There was a request that wording under Section 3 be enhanced to emphasise the danger of becoming involved in social media chains and conversations where others were displaying inappropriate behaviour or language.

Resolved:     the Committee

 

·         Note the report;

·         Request that the above comments and suggestions be taken into account when the guidance is finalised; and

·         Look forward to receiving the revised Social Media Guidance for Councillors at its meeting on 15 March 2021 for recommendation to Council.

 

17/20

Update on Model Code of Conduct and Local Government Ethical Standards Best Practice Recommendations pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Contact Officer:        Fiona Thomsen

 

The report provides updates in relation to progress in considering the best practice recommendations from the Local Government Ethical Standards Report of January 2019 issued by CSPL, and the progress of the new Model Code.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer introduced the Update on Model Code of Conduct and Local Government Ethical Standards Best Practice recommendations report.

 

It was reported that the draft Model Code of Conduct would be submitted to the LGA Board for approval on 3rd December, with publication expected shortly after. As such it was anticipated that a final version of the Code would be reviewed at the committee’s March meeting.

 

Members queried whether the Code would be suitable for adoption by town and parish councils, as it would be beneficial to have consistent adoption throughout the borough.

 

The Monitoring Officer commented that NALC had been part of the consultation process and so it was hoped that it would have championed suitability for all. The Monitoring Officer also agreed to publicise the Code to encourage uptake by local parish and town councils. 

 

Resolved:     the Committee

 

·         Note the follow up action taken by the Committee on standards in Public Life (CSPL) to monitor the progress in implementing the best practice recommendations form the Local Government Ethical Standards report; and

·         Note the progress towards the issue of a new model code of conduct.

18/20

Committee on Standards in Public Life pdf icon PDF 309 KB

Contact Officer:        Fiona Thomsen

 

The report seeks to advise the committee of the Standards Matter 2 consultation being undertaken by Committee on Standards in Public Life.

 

You are asked to note the consultation and decide whether the council should submit a response.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer advised the committee of the ‘Standards Matter 2: Public Consultation and Public Survey’ consultation being undertaken by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

 

The committee determined not to provide a formal response to the consultation, but suggested that councillors may wish to respond individually.

 

Resolved:     the Committee note the consultation.

19/20

Complaints report pdf icon PDF 227 KB

Contact Officer:        Fiona Thomsen

 

The report seeks to update the committee on progress in determining Code of Conduct complaints received against borough and parish/town councillors.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer introduced the Complaints report.

 

It was reported that GDPR and code of conduct training on the two oldest cases had now taken place.

 

It was noted that there were only two outstanding cases which related to parish council matters.

 

Resolved:     the Committee note the report.

 

20/20

Review of Work Programme

Minutes:

The committee reviewed and agreed its work programme.