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Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Kieran Elliott 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To note any apologies or substitutions for the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Pam Turner.

2.

Minutes

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2018.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2018 were presented for consideration and it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To approve and sign as a true and correct record.

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 through the Chair.

Minutes:

There were no announcements.

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 16 January 2019 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 18 January 2019. 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:

A statement was received under Minute 9 from Mr Francis Morland.

6.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) Complaint - Update on action taken by the Council

To receive a further update on the council’s response to the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Claire Edgar, Director of Adult Social Care, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, presented a report regarding actions undertaken by the Council following a report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) in April 2018 which had found the Council at fault in a complaint regarding the provision of respite care and transport to a particular family. Cabinet had accepted the LGSCO’s findings, recommendations and the actions to remedy the injustice set out in that report. At its meeting on 26 September 2018 the Standards Committee had received an initial update from Debbie Medlock, Interim Director of Adult Social Care, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities on how the Council was responding to the situation.

 

In accordance with the LGSCO’s recommendations the Community Learning Disability Services teams had undertaken a review of the care and support needs of all service users potentially affected using the correct respite eligibility criteria. The Committee was informed that as a result 113 reviews had taken place, of which six received an increase in their allocation of respite, one a decrease, and the rest had remained at the same level. In response to queries it was stated that the changes in allocation were minor, by a few days additional or less respite offered, and so the total cost would be low.

 

Details were sought on the ‘stop the clock’ methodology that had been adopted to ensure practice is continually improved upon, and of the increased level of training and guidance to ensure responsibilities of the Council under relevant legislation were adhered to, as well as allowing for immediate reactions to urgent circumstances.

 

At the conclusion of discussion, it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To note the further work undertaken by the Adult Social Care team in response to this matter.

 

 

7.

Status Report on Code of Conduct Complaints

To receive an update from the Monitoring Officer.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Sukdave Ghuman, Public Law and Compliance Team Leader, presented the status report on Code of Conduct complaints. There had been 47 complaints received in the calendar year 2018, with a total of 8 referred for investigation, which was an increase on previous years. Details were provided of the number of cases opened and closed throughout the year, and of the types of complaints which had been received.

 

The Monitoring Officer, Ian Gibbons, added that owing to the number of investigations and because the complaints team was also responsible for handling corporate complaints, some investigations were needing to be undertaken by external providers, which had not been budgeted for. The Committee would be reported to if that trend continued, and the Chairman requested the level of pressure of the council’s investigatory teams be noted.

 

The Committee discussed the report and presentation, seeking details of the cost of investigations, which could be several thousand pounds if done externally, and with considerable time pressures if done internally. The Committee also discussed the complaints process itself, noting it was robust and extended compared to many other authorities, for example with many stages of review possible, and included valuable member involvement, but that some concerns had been raised as to the deadlines and timings of various stages of the process. It was requested that work be undertaken to look at each stage of the process to see that they were fit for purpose, and where delays occurred, and that the Constitution Focus Group review that information and make recommendations as appropriate.

 

It was also reported that the Committee for Standards in Public Life, to which the Council had submitted a response to a recent consultation, would be reporting its findings at the end of January 2019.

 

At the conclusion of discussion, it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To note the status report on Code of Conduct complaints, and to request the Constitution Focus Group oversee a review of the procedures and make such recommendations as felt appropriate.

8.

Code of Conduct Complaints Comparison Case Study

To receive a report from the Monitoring Officer.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Kieran Elliott, Senior Democratic Services Officer, presented a report detailing research and analysis of the level of code of conduct complaints received at other, similar local authorities, as requested by the Committee at its meeting on 26 September 2018.


It was explained that owing to the different procedures, scale and reporting of the authorities’ direct comparisons was not without difficulty, however a range of information had been obtained from that publicly available which was sufficient to draw preliminary conclusions.

 

The data indicated that the level of complaints within the Wiltshire Council area was not excessively high or low and that the ration between unitary and parish councillor complaints was similar in many authorities. Most other authorities did not have as detailed a procedure as Wiltshire with several stages of reviews of decision, and had different levels of emphasis on pre-screening of complaints and the focus on alternative resolution. As a result, many authorities had very few investigations, however there were still some which undertook more than in Wiltshire.

 

The Committee received the report, noting the conclusions that the Council was not out of keeping with other authorities, and thanked Mr Elliott for his work compiling the information.

 

At the conclusion of discussion, it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To note the case study data and preliminary analysis set out in the report.

9.

Recommendations of the Constitution Focus Group

To consider proposed changes to the Constitution.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report was presented by Kieran Elliott, Senior Democratic Services Officer, outlining recommendations from the Constitution Focus Group in relation to Protocol 1 (Member-Officer Relations) and Part 4 (Council Rules of Procedure). On the recommendation of the Standards Committee Full Council on 16 October 2018 had approved previous changes to both sections, noting that some additional proposed revisions would follow at a later date.

 

The proposal in relation to Protocol 1 was an appendix setting out in further practical detail the rights of access of members to confidential or exempt information, and how they could request access and demonstrate their need to know the specified information. The proposal in relation to Part 4 were amendments to the provisions relating to substitution on committees, in particular to clarify that it was the responsibility of the member who was to be substituted to arrange such a substitution, and inform the proper officer in writing. A guidance note had been prepared to assist the interpretation of the relevant proposed provisions within the constitution.

 

Mr Francis Morland made a statement in relation to the proposals, relating to statutory rules on proportionality on committees, and he considered that the proposed guidance was not compliant with those rules. The Monitoring Officer, Ian Gibbons, in reply stated that he did not accept this was the case and that the proportionality arrangements were abided by. During wider discussion with the Committee regarding the nature of the substitution arrangements gernally, which were common in many authorities, it was stated that those common arrangement s had not been subject to legal challenge and were regarded as reasonable procedures to adopt.

 

The Committee discussed the proposals from the Focus Group, and considered that the propsoed changes and guidance note would be helpful additions to clarify the rights of members and procedural requirements respectively, and noted the inclusion of urgency provisions in the event a member, for an exception reason, was unable to inform the proper officer in writing.

 

Therefore, at the conclusion of discussion, it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To recommend that Council approve the changes to Protocol 1 and Part 4 of the Constitution as set out in the report.

10.

Urgent Items

Any other items of business which the Chairman agrees to consider as a matter of urgency

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

 

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