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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. View directions

Contact: Kieran Elliott 

Items
No. Item

31.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies or substitutions for the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Derek Brown OBE and Ruth Hopkinson.

32.

Minutes

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 26 June 2019.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 26 June 2019 were presented for consideration and it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To approve and sign the minutes as a true and correct record.

 

33.

Declarations of Interest

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

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations.

 

34.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements through the Chair.

Minutes:

There were no announcements.

35.

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 7 November 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 11 November 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:

There were no statements or questions submitted.

 

36.

Status Report on Code of Conduct Complaints

To receive a report from the Monitoring Officer on Code of Conduct complaints.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report from the Monitoring Officer (via the Deputy Monitoring Officer) was presented on the current status of Code of Conduct complaints. It was noted that the number of complaints was reduced from the previous year and the overall average number of complaints per annum. It was also noted that a further four complaints had been submitted since publication of the agenda.

 

Resolved:

 

To note the update on Code of Conduct complaints.

37.

Recommendations from the Constitution Focus Group: Protocol 4 (Planning Code of Good Practice)

To receive a report from the Monitoring Officer on recommendations from the Constitution Focus Group on proposed changes to Protocol 4 of the Constitution (Planning Code of Good Practice).

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report from the Monitoring Officer (via the Deputy Monitoring Officer) on recommendations from the Constitution Focus Group was presented. It was detailed that following Full Council on 9 July 2019 referring the previously recommended changes to Protocol 4 back to the Standards Committee, all Members of the Council had been contacted for comments and those comments considered by the Focus Group. At its meeting on 2 September 2019 the Focus Group had made further changes in response to those comments to address concerns regarding wording relating to Member requests for call-in of planning applications.

 

As detailed in the report it was explained that the wording did not place additional obligations on Members when making a call-in request, nor provide additional authority to officers, but was a reflection of the legal and administrative position in relation to an executive action of which items would be considered by Committee. This was stated as necessary in part because if a call-in were made without acceptable planning reasons, this could form the basis of a legal challenge should it be approved or rejected against officer recommendation, and that therefore an audit trail was required explaining any such decision. Additionally, it was confirmed officers were unaware of any call-in requests submitted within required timeframes which had been rejected other than for reasons of timing.

 

The Committee were also made aware as detailed in the agenda supplement of a representation received requesting inclusion of a clause prohibiting members from acting as planning agents for an application, even if they were not involved in decision-making. It was considered that such a prohibition was not required in law and would be an inappropriate and disproportionate restriction of Members’ rights, and that existing rules on declaration of interests were appropriate.

 

The Committee discussed the updated Protocol from the Focus Group and agreed that the changes addressed the significant concern raised by Full Council. Therefore, it was,

 

Resolved:

 

That Protocol 4 be amended by Full Council as detailed at Appendix B of the report.

 

Councillor Stuart Wheeler arrived at 1212.

 

38.

Recommendations from the Constitution Focus Group: Part 4A (Petitions Scheme)

To receive a report from the Monitoring Officer on recommendations from the Constitution Focus Group on proposed changes to Part 4A of the Constitution (Petitions Scheme).

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report from the Monitoring Officer (via the Deputy Monitoring Officer) on recommendations from the Constitution Focus Group was presented. It was detailed that the Constitution Focus Group were proposing amendment to the Petitions Scheme in order to provide greater clarity and openness. Changes included the length of a debate on a petition at Full Council was proposed to be doubled, with clarification that Cabinet Member and Group Leader responses would not contribute to that time limit of 30 minutes, as well as additional clarification on how those debates were to be structured and when a petition should be submitted.

 

The Committee was informed that recommendations that the threshold for signatures for a debate at Full Council be 5000, and that Member contributions be limited to 3 minutes each, had been majority not unanimous recommendations by the Focus Group. During debate the Committee noted the substantial increase in time for a debate overall, and the benefit of maximising the number of contributions within that increased time limit, and so resolved to accept the recommendation, as well as the principle of a set threshold limit of 5000.  There was also clarification sought on thresholds for debate at area boards, with Chairmen to have discretion for petitions over 10 signatures, but only required to debate a valid petition if over 50 signatures.

 

At the conclusion of discussion, it was,

 

Resolved:

 

That Part 4A be amended by Full Council as detailed at Appendix C.

39.

New Standards Procedures and Appointment of Standards Assessment Sub-Committee

Following changes to Protocol 11 of the Constitution by Full Council on 9 July 2019, to appoint the members of the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee with effect from 1 January 2020.


To consider any additional details regarding the revised Standards arrangements and procedures approved by Full Council on 9 July 2019.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A report from the Monitoring Officer on implementation of new procedures and appointment of the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee was presented. It was noted the new Sub-Committee would come into being on 1 January 2020, and updates were being prepared for the website, appeal forms and internal processes. An example officer report for the Sub-Committee was provided, and the updated procedure notes, which it was stated would include further amendment to emphasise the need to consult with the Independent person. In response to queries it was also confirmed the new procedure would include more robust screening of complaints against the criteria.

 

The membership of the sub-committee was agreed, but it was felt appropriate that the Sub-Committee appoint its own Chairman and Vice-Chairman at its first meeting. At the end of discussion, it was,

 

Resolved:

 

1)    To note the preparations for the new Standards procedures coming into effect on 1 January 2020.

 

2)    To appoint the following membership of the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee, also to come into effect on 1 January 2020:

 

Cllr Richard Britton
Cllr Ernie Clark

Cllr Ruth Hopkinson

Cllr Fred Westmoreland

Cllr Stuart Wheeler

 

3)    To delegate the appointment of a Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee to the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee.

 

40.

Date of Next Meeting

To confirm the date of the next scheduled meeting as 29 January 2020.

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 29 January 2020.

 

41.

Urgent Items

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

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

 

 

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