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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Civic Centre, St Stephens Place, Trowbridge, BA14 8AH. View directions

Contact: Pam Denton  Email: pam.denton@wiltshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman for this meeting only

Minutes:

Nominations for a Chairman of the Standards Hearing Sub-Committee were sought and it was

 

Resolved:

 

To elect Councillor Christopher Williams as Chairman.

 

2.

Chairman's Welcome, Introduction and Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the parties to the meeting, explained the purpose of the meeting and asked those present to introduce themselves.

 

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors are requested to declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

To agree that in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the public from the meeting for the business specified in Item Number 5 because it is likely that if members of the public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in  paragraph 7(c) of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act and the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information to the public.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman invited representations from the parties on whether the preliminary hearing should be conducted in public or closed session.

 

The complainant had no objection to the matter being heard in public.

The investigating officer, through Mr Cain, indicated that he had no objection to the matter being heard in public, subject to the redaction of third party personal details in accordance with the Council’s data protection obligations, before release of documentation into the public domain.

Mr Morland, on behalf of the subject member, objected to the matter being dealt with in the public domain on the grounds that the process and investigation report were deeply flawed and prejudicial to the subject member and publication in these circumstances would not be fair.

 

Having regard to these representations and advice from the Monitoring Officer the Sub-Committee concluded, on balance, that the preliminary hearing should proceed in the absence of the public at this stage.  The Sub-Committee were, however, mindful of the need for openness and transparency in these matters and noted that the position would be reviewed further at any substantive hearing.  The Sub-Committee, therefore,



Resolved:

 

In accordance with section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the public from the meeting for the business specified in item 5 because it is likely that if members of the public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act and the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information to the public.

 

After consulting the parties, the Chairman agreed that Councillor Newbury should be permitted to remain in the hearing as a Wiltshire Councillor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.

Standards Committee Hearing Complaint regarding the alleged conduct of Councillor Russell Hawker of Westbury Town Council

Minutes:

Alternative Resolution

The Chairman opened this part of the meeting by inviting the parties to indicate whether there was any possibility of a resolution being reached that would avoid the need for a full hearing.  A short adjournment followed to enable the parties to explore, on a without prejudice basis, the possibility of reaching a compromise, facilitated by the Monitoring Officer.

 

The meeting resumed at 11.45 am when the Sub-Committee were advised that there was no prospect of a compromise being reached between the parties.


Documents

The Chairman confirmed that, in addition to the papers circulated with the agenda,the Sub-Committee had received Mr Morland’s e-mails to the Monitoring Officer dated 27 February 2013; 1 March 2013; 2 March 2013; 6 March 2013 (2); and 18 March 2013.

Independent Person (Subject Member)

 

Mr Morland sought an adjournment on the basis of the objection he had raised in his e-mail to the Monitoring Officer dated 18 March 2013 regarding the hearing proceeding in the absence of Caroline Baynes, the independent person allocated for consultation by the subject member.  Caroline Baynes had advised that she would be unable to attend the meeting before 1.00 pm due to a prior unavoidable commitment. Mr Morland contended that it would be unlawful for the Sub-Committee to proceed in her absence.

Following representations in response from Mr Cain and advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Sub-Committee determined:

1. Whilst it was clearly desirable that both independent persons were present
    throughout the preliminary hearing the Sub-Committee did not accept that
    this was required as a matter of law. 

2. In order to avoid the delay that would result from an adjournment the Sub-
    Committee were minded to proceed to hear submissions from the parties on
    the preliminary matters before them, but to reserve making any
    decision on them until the subject member had had the opportunity to consult
    with the independent person (subject member) following her arrival at the
    meeting.

3.  The subject member was represented and there was no material prejudice to
     him in proceeding on this basis.
 

Mr Morland asked for his objection to this ruling to be recorded.


Jurisdiction

 

The Sub-Committee heard submissions from Mr Morland and Mr Cain on the question of jurisdiction and, in particular, the effect of the transitional provisions set out in the Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 6 and Transitional, Savings and Transitory Provisions) Order 2012 (the ‘transitional regulations’).

 

The meeting was then adjourned from 12.30 pm until 1.40 pm for lunch.

 

Upon resuming the meeting the Sub-Committee noted Mr Morland’s continuing objection to the preliminary hearing proceeding in the absence of the independent person (subject member) who had not yet arrived.

 

 

Investigating Officer’s Report

 

The Sub-Committee went on to hear submissions from Mr Morland and Mr Cain on the content of the investigation report and the nature and extent of the evidence that should be considered at any substantive hearing. The following points were covered:

·      The inclusion of material submitted by Cllr Hawker in his Updated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

5a

Consideration of the Investigator's Report and Subject Members' Response

Supporting documents:

5b

Arrangements for dealing with Code of Conduct Complaints under the Localism Act 2011

Supporting documents:

 

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