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Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Ian Gibbons  Email: ian.gibbons@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 Sub-Committee were sought and it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To elect Councillor Roy While 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 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 6 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 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 hearing should be conducted in public or closed session.

 

The investigating officer, through Mr Cain, indicated that he took a neutral stance on this issue.

Cllr Hawker, as the subject member, was not concerned either way.

The Complainant said he preferred the matter being heard in public.

Having regard to these representations and advice from the Monitoring Officer the Sub-Committee decided in the interests of openness and transparency that the hearing should proceed in public.

5.

Minutes of the Sub-Committee on 10 April 2013

The Sub Committee will confirm the Minutes of the previous meeting dated 10 April 2013. A copy of the draft minutes are included in Appendix C of the Agenda Pack.

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee

 

RESOLVED:

To accept the minutes.

 

6.

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

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Procedure

The Chairman confirmed that the hearing would be conducted in accordance with the Council’s Arrangements for dealing with Code of Conduct Complaints, a copy of which had been circulated with the papers. The Chairman outlined the order of the hearing from paragraph 8 of the procedure.

Documents

The Chairman obtained confirmation from the parties that they had all the documentation that was before the Sub-Committee:

(1) Agenda report and appendices;

(2) Bundle A - Alleged Breaches, Chronology and Witness Statements

(3) Bundle B – Index of Documentary Exhibits

(4) Bundle C – Index of Legal Documents


Monitoring Officer’s Report


The Chairman invited the Monitoring Officer to introduce the complaint. Mr Gibbons explained the complaint and relevant background, as set out in his report, including the outcome of the preliminary hearing on 20 March 2013 and the hearing on 10 April 2013.

Mr Gibbons confirmed that the hearing would proceed on the basis of the determinations made at the preliminary hearing on 20 March, in particular that the matters would be considered against the Town Council’s former code of conduct but under the new arrangements. It was noted that in his email of 29 July 2013 to the Sub-Committee Members Cllr Hawker had withdrawn his objection in respect of the hearing proceeding to deal with the matter under the old code of conduct.

 

Mr Gibbons then outlined the approach he would be advising the Sub-Committee to take in making its decision on the matter.

Preliminary Issues

Cllr Hawker sought a further adjournment of a few weeks to enable him to prepare his case properly. He proposed that the case against him should be presented and witnesses called. The proceedings to that point should be written up and he should then be given the opportunity to respond.

 

Cllr Hawker set out the history of the case from his perspective and made submissions in support of his request for an adjournment. Mr Cain made submissions in response whilst agreeing to abide by the decision of the Sub-Committee on this issue.

 

The Monitoring Officer drew the Sub-Committee’s attention to the decision of the previous Sub-Committee on 10 April 2013 when Cllr Hawker had been granted an adjournment.  The Sub-Committee had made it clear on that occasion that any further adjournment was highly unlikely to be granted.

 

Having considered the request and given their views, without retiring, the Sub-Committee felt that Cllr Hawker had been given sufficient time to prepare and had submitted  a wealth of information in support of his case.  They decided, therefore, that the hearing should proceed.

The Sub-Committee determined that all the witnesses to be called by the investigating officer, apart from the Complainant, should withdraw at the close of Mr Cain’s opening statement to ensure that their evidence was not influenced by what they had heard from earlier witnesses.

 


Substantive Complaint

 

Mr Cain presented the case on behalf of the Investigating Officer.  He outlined the relevant facts, law and guidance and then called the Complainant, Mr Taylor, as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

 

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