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Agenda and minutes

Venue: West Wiltshire Room - County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. View directions

Contact: Kieran Elliott 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive any apologies or substitutions for the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ruth Hopkinson and Bob Jones MBE

2.

Minutes

a)    To confirm the minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 7 June 2017.

 

b)    To receive the minutes of the Standards Review Sub-Committee from the meetings held on 28 March 2017, 6 June 2017, 17 August 2017 and 23 August 2017.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 7 June 2017, and the Standards Review Sub-Committee meetings held on 28 March, 6 June, 17 August and 23 August 2017, were presented.

 

Resolved:

 

To approve and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Standards Committee held on 7 June 2017.

 

To receive and note the minutes of the Standards Review Sub-Committee meetings held on 28 March, 6 June, 17 August and 23 August 2017.

3.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable interests or dispensations granted by the Standards Committee.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations.

4.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements though the Chair.

Minutes:

It was announced that Mr Paul Neale, a longstanding co-opted member of the Committee, had passed away since its last meeting in June 2017. On behalf of the Committee the Chairman formally noted their condolences.

5.

Public Participation

The Council welcomes contributions from members of the public.

 

Statements

If you would like to make a statement at this meeting on any item on this agenda, please register to do so at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting. Up to 3 speakers are permitted to speak for up to 3 minutes each on any agenda item. Please contact the officer named on the front of the agenda for any further clarification.

 

Questions

To receive any questions from members of the public or members of the Council received in accordance with the constitution.

 

Those wishing to ask questions are required to give notice of any such questions in writing to the officer named on the front of this agenda no later than 5pm on 10 January 2018 in order to be guaranteed of a written response. In order to receive a verbal response questions must be submitted no later than 5pm on 12 January 2018. Please contact the officer named on the front of this agenda for further advice. Questions may be asked without notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent.

 

Details of any questions received will be circulated to Committee members prior to the meeting and made available at the meeting and on the Council’s website.

Minutes:

No questions or statements were submitted.

6.

Appointment of Co-Opted Members

Full Council on 16 May 2017 delegated to the Standards Committee the appointment of four non-voting co-opted members to the Standards Committee, two of whom must be serving parish, town or city councillors from within the Council’s area.  The arrangements for selection of such members were delegated to the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chairman of the Standards Committee.

 

The Committee is therefore advised that advertisements are shortly to be placed for the four positions, which have an annual allowance of £1180 for each member. Shortlisting and interviewing of prospective candidates will be undertaken by a selection panel comprising the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and one other member of the Standards Committee. The selection panel will then recommend candidates for appointment by the Committee at its next meeting on 18 April 2018.

Minutes:

As detailed in the agenda Full Council on 16 May 2017 delegated to the Standards Committee the appointment of four non-voting co-opted members to the Standards Committee, two of whom must be serving parish, town or city councillors from within the Council’s area. The arrangements for selection of such members were delegated to the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chairman of the Standards Committee.

 

Ian Gibbons, Monitoring Officer, informed the committee that advertisements for the four positions would soon be placed and detailed the proposed selection process to be undertaken, and that the Committee would be in a position to appoint to the positions in 18 April 2018.

 

The Committee discussed the update, confirming that at least two of the four positions must be filled by serving town or parish councillors, but that more than two could be appointed. Methods to publicise the positions beyond town and parish councils were also discussed, such as through the area boards and ‘our community matters’ websites.

 

Resolved:

 

To note the update.

 

7.

Review of the Constitution

A report from the Monitoring Officer is attached.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report from the Monitoring Officer was presented detailing a proposed work programme for the Constitution Focus Group, including reviews of the councillor-officer relations protocol and to clarify the process for publication and scrutiny review of officer decisions.

 

Additionally details were provided on ongoing amendments to be made under the Monitoring Officer’s delegated powers to correct errors, clarify ambiguities and give effect to decisions of Full Council. Other than minor corrections, these would be taken the Focus Group prior to amendment, and reported to the Standards Committee.

 

At the conclusion of discussion,

 

Resolved:

 

1)    To approve the proposed work programme for the Constitution Focus Group, together with any further items the Committee may wish to include; and,

 

2)    To note the work that is underway in updating the Constitution under the Monitoring Officer’s delegated powers, and any changes to be reported to the Committee.

 

8.

Status Report on Code of Conduct Complaints

A report from the Monitoring Officer is attached.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report from the Monitoring Officer was presented detailing the status of complaints submitted regarding alleged breaches of Codes of Conduct of town and parish councils, and Wiltshire Councillors.

 

It was detailed that the total number of complaints received for 2017 was 37 vs 59 in 2016. Details were provided on the type of complaints received and the outcomes.

 

The Committee discussed the update, requesting further details on complaints that had been subject to review requests, as well as the officer time input administering the complaints process.

 

Resolved:

 

To note the update.

9.

Training for Parish Councils on the Code of Conduct

The Monitoring Officer will update the Committee on the provision of training for parish councillors on the Code of Conduct, particularly in relation to the registration and disclosure of interest.

Minutes:

Ian Gibbons, Monitoring Officer, provided a verbal update on training for parish councils. As part of a wider parish council networking session he had delivered some initial information to representatives of around 100 parishes, out of 253 in Wiltshire as a whole. The Wiltshire Council Monitoring Officer has an obligation to maintain the register of interests for parish councils, as well as promote high standards of conduct.

 

The views of the Standards Committee were sought on the level of support that could and should be offered in the light of concerns both on the level of compliance of parish councils in adopting Codes of Conduct and properly registering their interests, as well as general understanding of their own obligations.

 

The Committee discussed the situation, noting that while very few parish councils had adopted no Code of Conduct at all, this was a statutory obligation and it was vital that all do so. In particular it was noted Wiltshire Council was unable to properly conduct its own statutory obligation to deal with Code of Conduct complaints where a Code was absent. It was also raised that the level of understanding of parish councillor obligations and compliance with registration of interests was highly varied, and that the experience and knowledge of the clerks of a parish council was an important factor.

 

While supporting the need to assist parish councils in meeting their obligations, some concerns were raised that it was not an obligation of Wiltshire Council to provide training and free resources for parish councils, and it was questioned whether such matters could most appropriately be provided through the Wiltshire Association of Local Councils (WALC), in concert with or without occasional regional training sessions from the Monitoring Officer.

 

At the conclusion of discussion it was proposed that the Monitoring Officer write to parish council clerks and chairman seeking, in the first instance, confirmation of whether their council had adopted a Code of Conduct, and providing information on the necessity to properly register councillor interests, and for confirmation if such registers had been completed and were up to date. It was also requested that WALC be contacted to inquire as to the level of support and guidance they were able to offer parish councils.

 

Resolved:

 

For the Monitoring Officer to contact all parish councils to seek details of their compliance with adopting Codes of Conduct and registering disclosable pecuniary interests; and

 

For a report on the responses to be provided at the meeting on 18 April 2017, along with details of support able to be provided by WALC.

 

10.

Urgent Items

To consider any items considered, in the opinion of the Chairman, to be urgent.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

 

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