Agenda and draft minutes

Councillor Conduct Committee
Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019 5.30 pm

Venue: Room 3, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3XA. View directions

Contact: Penelope Williams 

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Apologies

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.  There were no apologies. 

2.

Substitutions

Any members who wishes to appoint a substitute for this meeting must notify the Monitoring Officer in writing, before the beginning of the meeting, of the intended substitution.

 

Any notifications received will be reported at the meeting. 

Minutes:

There were no substitutions.

3.

Declaration of Interests

Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relating  to the items on the agenda. 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest. 

4.

Independent Person - Extension of Term of Appointment pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To receive a report from the Director of Law and Governance on the extension of the term of appointment of Christine Chamberlain (Independent Person) for a further two years.  (Report No: 55)

 

The Councillor Conduct Committee is asked to recommend to Council that Christine Chamberlain’s term of appointment is extended to 30 June 2021. 

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from Jeremy Chambers (Monitoring Officer and Director of Law and Governance) on the extension of Christine Chamberlain’s term of appointment as an Independent Person. (Report No: 55)

 

NOTED

 

1.         Jeremy Chambers’ advice to members that Christine Chamberlain had served the council well and that he felt that this was not a good time to make changes.  

2.         Christine Chamberlain had indicated that she was willing to continue in the role. 

3.         That the report had been included on the agenda for consideration at the 10 July 2019 Council meeting. 

 

AGREED unanimously to recommend to full Council that Christine Chamberlain’s term of appointment, as Independent Person, be extended by two years to 30 June 2021. 

 

5.

Annual Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 312 KB

To receive and agree the Annual Report of the Councillor Conduct Committee for 2018/19. 

Minutes:

The Committee received a draft copy of the Councillor Conduct Committee Annual Report for 2018/19.

 

NOTED

 

1.         That Jeremy Chambers advised members that the report was short and informative covering the committee’s work over the preceding year, including details of the two appeal hearings.

2.         That the report had been included on the agenda for consideration at the 10 July 2019 Council meeting. 

3.         The number of complaints considered would be included and circulated to members of the committee after the meeting. 

4.         It was likely that there would be further hearings in the current year. 

 

AGREED to accept the report as the Annual Report of the Councillor Conduct Committee for 2018/19. 

6.

Dispensations

To note that no additional dispensations were granted in 2018/19.

Minutes:

NOTED

 

1.         That no additional dispensations had been granted in 2018/19. 

2.         Members were advised that all councillors had a statutory dispensation allowing them to vote on setting of the Council Tax and Council housing rents. 

7.

Update on Complaints pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To receive an update from the Monitoring Officer on the complaints currently being considered. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a brief report of complaints currently under consideration. 

 

NOTED

 

1.         Only a brief outline had been provided, so as not to prejudice any outcome, if the committee were asked to hear the complaint or an appeal at a later date.

2.         The first complaint concerning the alleged disclosure of confidential information had been discussed with Sarah Jewell as Independent Person and was being investigated.

3.         The second complaint concerning social media postings had been discussed with Sarah Jewell as Independent Person and further action was being considered. 

4.         The third complaint concerning non-attendance at meetings had been investigated internally and no breach found.  

5.         It was acknowledged that this complaint had taken a long time to be resolved.   The aim was that all complaints should be resolved within 3 months, but these were often complicated issues and could take a long time to thoroughly investigate. 

6.         The fourth complaint concerned failure to treat with respect and bullying.  An external investigation had been carried out, a breach of the code of conduct found, and an appeal lodged.  An appeal hearing of the committee was to be arranged.

7.         Complaints 5 and 8 concerned failure to treat with respect and bullying.  Further detail was awaited on the fifth complaint and the eighth complaint had been considered by Sarah Jewell and would be investigated. 

8.         The sixth complaint concerned failure to treat with respect and bullying and equalities duties.  The complaint had been investigated, partially upheld and the councillor been asked to apologise to full Council.   It had taken a long time due to failure of the councillor to fully engage with the process. 

9.         The seventh complaint concerning a failure of openness, honesty, respect and the duty to uphold the law was being investigated.

10.      The ninth complaint concerning media comments had been closed following an initial determination.

11.      The tenth complaint concerning failure to uphold the law by interfering in the scrutiny process had been investigated and partially upheld.  An apology was to be sent to the complainant.  The matter is now closed, as no appeal had been received. 

12.      The eleventh complaint concerned an alleged inappropriate intervention in a planning matter.   An investigation was being carried out and would be speeded up. 

13.      The twelfth complaint concerning various matters including failure to treat with respect had been investigated, no breach found, no appeal received and so the matter had been closed. 

14.      The thirteenth complaint concerning alleged failure to treat with respect, bullying, intimidation, compromises to impartiality, conferring disadvantage and disrespect was being investigated externally.

15.      The fourteenth complaint concerning comments on facebook had been closed following initial determination. 

16.      The fifteenth complaint concerning failure to treat with respect, discourteous behaviour and bullying had been closed following initial determination. 

17.      Concern from Councillor Hamilton that as several of the complaints concerned internal political matters she felt that they should have been dealt with within the political group and not have been bought to the Councillor Conduct Committee.

18.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Work programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To note the work programme for 2019/20. 

Minutes:

The Committee received a draft copy of the work programme for 2019/20. 

 

NOTED

 

1.            Jeremy Chambers advised that he wanted to add two items to the work programme for the October meeting:  a detailed training programme and a briefing on a recent report from the Committee in Standards in Public Life on local council standard’s regimes. 

2.            The new proposals from the Committee in Standards in Public Life report included assuming that a councillor was acting in his official capacity unless he could prove otherwise and bringing in a sanction, which had existed under the pre 2012 Standard’s regime, that a councillor could be suspended for 6 months for breaches of the code of conduct. 

3.            Reserve members would be invited to any training. 

4.            A social media training session had been held for all councillors on the preceding Monday.  This had been poorly attended and it was felt had not included enough information on how members should conduct themselves on social media. 

5.            It was suggested that a short video on social media conduct should be produced which could be included on the Members Portal.  Jayne Middleton-Albooye and Jeremy Chambers also agreed to provide a session for members of each group at future group meetings. 

9.

Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 December 2018 pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To receive and agree the minutes of the meeting held on 11 December 2018. 

Minutes:

The minutes would be recirculated to enable a comment made by Councillor Glynis Vince, at the last meeting, to be included. 

 

10.

Dates of Future meetings

To note the dates scheduled for future meetings:

 

·         Thursday 3 October 2019

·         Wednesday 4 December 2019

·         Tuesday 3 March 2020 

Minutes:

AGREED to note the dates agreed for future meetings:

 

·         Wednesday 4 December 2019

·         Tuesday 3 March 2020

 

The October meeting date would be re-arranged.