Agenda and draft minutes

Conduct Committee - Wednesday, 23rd September, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/97021546307

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

An apology was received by Councillor A Brown who was subsituted by Councillor Jones.

2.

APPOINTMENT OF VICE- CHAIRMAN

Minutes:

Councillor Hemsley proposed Cllr A Brown as Vice Chair and seconded by Cllr Razzell.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Councillor A Brown be appointed as Vice Chair of the Conduct Committee.

3.

MINUTES

To confirm the minutes of the Conduct Committee held on 3 September 2019, previously circulated.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous Conduct Committee held on 3 September 2019, were confirmed.

4.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

In accordance with the Regulations, Members are invited to declare any disclosable interests under the Code of Conduct and the nature of those interests in respect of items on this Agenda and/or indicate if Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applies to them.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

5.

PETITIONS, DEPUTATION AND QUESTIONS

To receive any petitions, deputations and questions received from Members of the Public in accordance with the Virtual Meetings Regulations (s1 2020 392) and the subsequent RCC Procedure Rules agreed at Council on 20 May 2020 and revised by Council on 14 September 2020. (Please see link: Council agenda/revision to Virtual Meetings Protocol)

 

 

 

Minutes:

There were none.

6.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS

To consider any questions received from Members of the Council in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule 95.

Minutes:

There were none.

7.

COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS IN PUBLIC LIFE - REVIEW OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ETHICAL STANDARDS pdf icon PDF 391 KB

To receive Report No.118/2020 from the Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

Councillor Hemsley, introduced the report and explained that the recommendations were for noting. He referred to recommendation 3 and requested an amendment that a further meeting be called when the Council had received the final version of the code or the Government response to the CSPL.

 

The Monitoring Officer explained that in January 2019 the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) published a report setting out its findings from a review of Local Government Ethical Standards which it had undertaken over the preceding 12 months. The LGA have then also consulted on a draft Model Code of Conduct. It was explained that there was currently no response to the consultation and due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, it was unlikely that a response would be forthcoming in the near future.

 

Concern was raised about the feedback from the LGA of ‘the need to be able to prevent councillors from attending council offices (for the most prolific or serious offenders) and to withdraw facilities which have been misused in breach of the code (i.e. council technology)’ as this could potentially prevent an elected member from performing their elected duties and being open to interpretation could be misused by stifling debate and potentially muting an elected member(s).

 

The Monitoring Officer explained that emails/technology would only be withdrawn when there was evidence of bullying and harassment through such means. The Committee discussed whether making the rules too prescriptive and to remove interpretation as there may be instance where this would be necessary to gain more evidence and to restrict it would hinder such opportunities.

 

In response to questions asked, the Monitoring Officer explained that with regards to Social Media, if a member was considered not to be acting in their official capacity as a councillor, they were not covered by the Code of Conduct. He commented that there needed to be a balance between access with a clear distinction in what capacity they are engaging in social media activities.

 

The Chair, with the agreement of the Committee, invited Councillor Harvey –a non-Committee Member to speak. She requested that with changes to working practices, specifically with the increased number of online meetings being held, that an easy to follow guide to online etiquette be produced to assist Councillors. She stated that members of the public now being able to participate in meetings would allow people with differing levels of experience and technology to participate. Therefore, she considered essential that part of the etiquette guide should include ‘patience’ and ‘empathy’ for those affected by poor quality broadband or an unfamiliarity with technology which was fully supported by the Committee. In response the Monitoring Officer confirmed that this would be looked at a guide would be produced as agreed.

 

 

The Monitoring Officer explained that with regards to Parish Council complaints and Code of Conduct matters, there are a minority of cases that cause disproportion amount of work when it was considered a necessity for intervention. It was noted that the Council would ordinarily try  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

NOTICES OF MOTION

To consider any Notices of Motion from Members submitted under Procedure Rule 97.

 

Minutes:

There were none.

9.

ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

To consider any other urgent business at the discretion of the person presiding provided that it has been previously notified to them.

 

Minutes:

There was no urgent items to be considered.