Venue: Committee Room, Council Offices, Urban Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield. View directions
Contact: Alan Maher
Declarations of Disclosable and Non-Disclosable Pecuniary / Other Interests
No Declarations of Interest
Minutes PDF 136 KB
The minutes of the Standards
and Personnel Appeals Committee held on 25 July 2016 be received
and approved as a true record.
Draft Member Development Strategy PDF 229 KB
Members were reminded that at
its last meeting the Committee discussed the Council’s
approach to Member training and development. It was explained that
since May 2015 the focus for the development programme had been on
providing a general introduction to the different Member roles;
especially for those who had been elected for the first time.
Valuable as this had been, the Committee thought that a more
targeted approach should now be adopted, with the aim of meeting
the specific development requirements of individual
There was a consensus that
Member Development was important both to individual Councillors and
to the Council as a whole in terms of helping to ensure that it
operates effectively. This is reflected in
the Council’s Corporate Plan 2016-2019.The Committee emphasised just how important it was to help
Members gain the knowledge and skills they require to carry out
their roles. It was also important for them to understand what the
consequences are likely to be when they do not understand these
roles, behave inappropriately or take the wrong decisions. These
risks were seen as especially significant, when Members have to
carry out their regulatory or quasi-judicial functions, such as
considering and deciding on planning applications.
The report to Committee set out
the draft Member Development Strategy, which brought together a
range of proposals on how a more targeted approach to training and
development could be achieved. In particular, it argued that the
process for identifying development needs ought to be Member-led.
The strategy suggested that an annual training needs survey could
be introduced. If adopted, Councillors would be asked to say what
learning and development activities they had found effective. It
would also ask them what they thought their priorities for learning
and development would be over the coming year.
There was a lot of support for
Members feeding back their experience of these training events.
This would be a way of providing benchmark information that would
save the Council money by ensuring that Members were not booked on
courses that had already proved not to be suitable. The Committee
heard and discussed examples of how this type of feedback from
training courses works in other authorities.
The Committee felt it important
that training be made as accessible as possible, including for
those Members who work or who cannot attend during the day time
because of care commitments. They welcomed the proposal that the
Members e-learning facility ought to be enhanced and developed as a
practical way of extending the way in which Members receive
training, rather than just relying on them to attend training
Members discussed how the
training budget for Member Development is currently allocated. A
range of options were considered. These included consideration of a
possible threshold or upper cost limit for any training activity
for individual Members. The Committee also discussed whether the
Member Development budget should be allocated on a pro rata basis
between the different groups or whether it would be better to
target funding on meeting ...
view the full minutes text for item 8.
Disclosure and Barring Services for Councillors PDF 255 KB
Members next considered a
report on Disclosure of Barring Service (DBS) checks for
Councillors. This explained that
Councillors had not been required to have DBS checks, especially
those in district local authorities with no responsibility for
children’s services or adult social care. However, many
councils have now decided to carry out DBS checks for all of their
Members, often as a way of providing reassurance to the public. A
similar approach, it was suggested, would help to improve public
confidence in Ashfield also.
Members discussed the report.
During this discussion they made it clear that they supported DBS
checks for all Councillors. They recognised that there were often
instances when they can find themselves in contact with vulnerable
people and that it would provide reassurance to the public and
individual constituents if they could be assured that their elected
Members had been DBS checked.
The Committee explored how the
DBS checking process might work and in particular, what could be
done if certain Members decided that they did not wish to apply for
a DBS check. Members heard that in neighbouring local authorities
these objections were usually resolved as a matter of internal
group discipline or persuasion rather than as matter for the
authority. It was expected that a similar approach was likely to
happen in Ashfield. The Committee thought that this would be
Members also discussed what
would be the most appropriate level of DBS check. The report
recommended that they should each receive the Enhanced level of DBS
check. After a debate, the Committee concluded that this would be
disproportionate and that an appropriate level of assurance could
be provided through the less expensive Standard check. The
Committee agreed that the proposal should be recommended to Council
on that basis.
The Committee recommends to Council that all
Councillors receive ‘Standard’ DBS checks, as set out
in Paragraph 4(b) of the report;
The Committee recommends to Council that the
proposed Policy on Disclosure and Barring Service ‘DBS’
checks for Councillors and Co-opted Members as appended to the
report be adopted.
In order to protect those who
are most vulnerable in society and to help strengthen public
Members with other Roles which might Conflict with their Role as a Councillor PDF 236 KB
The Committee was reminded that
it had asked for a draft guidance note be prepared, in order to
help those Councillors with external roles or interests, to
recognise and avoid any conflicts of interest.
Members were asked to consider
the draft guidance note. During the discussion, the Committee
reiterated its concerns about the problems that can be caused when
a Member’s role as a District Councillor becomes blurred with
other roles that they might have, such as a Councillor for another
local authority or as part of the support staff for a Member of
Parliament. It was argued that this can confuse local people; for
example by blurring who was actually responsible for dealing with
any issues that they had raised.
The Committee felt it important
that there should be transparency about different roles. Members
must always be clear when they are acting in their capacity as a
District Councillor and when they are acting in another capacity
(for instance, not using their Ashfield District Council email
accounts for work related to their employment.)
In this context the Committee
discussed the arrangements for dealing with MP enquiries. These
arrangements had been recently revised in order to provide a single
point of contact for parliamentarians. This would, it was felt,
help to provide greater clarity and to prevent confusion over
Members also felt that it would
be helpful if there was clarity about how enquiries from
Councillors of other local authorities are dealt with. Again, it was felt that the status of these
requests should be made explicit and handled centrally. The
Committee thought the best approach would be to ask County
Councillors and others to channel their enquiries through the
Council’s existing Members Enquiry Service.
That the Committee approves the
guidance note, subject to inclusion of arrangements for dealing
with enquiries from those in their capacity as representatives of
other local authorities through the Members Enquiry
To help promote and maintain
high standards of conduct by Members.
Quarterly Complaints Update PDF 73 KB
The report to Committee
provided information on complaints of alleged Member misconduct and
the progress which had been made in assessing them for the period
16 July 2016 to 30 September 2016.
Members heard that since the
report had been prepared there had been further developments on the
first case. Briefly, it was explained that it was now hoped that
the case could be resolved on the basis of local resolution and so
not require a formal hearing.
The Committee discussed
extensively this case. In particular, Members were concerned about
the length of time that it had taken to investigate and resolve it,
with the associated costs that this involved. Some Members
suggested that other authorities are able to deal with complaints
more quickly. The Committee was also concerned that a local
resolution was only now being proposed. Members felt that this
should happen at the start of the complaints process rather than at
the end. The Committee felt that there would be advantages of
making this a firm provision in the policy. It was agreed to pass
this suggestion to the Monitoring Officer.
That the Committee notes the
updated position in respect of Members’ Code of Conduct
Complaints for the period 16 July 2016 to 30 September
To reflect good