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Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary and Non Disclosable Pecuniary / Other Interests
No Declarations of Interest
Minutes PDF 143 KB
The minutes of the meeting held
on Monday 12 December 2016 were approved as a true
Performance Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) Guidance - Criteria, Absences - Excused and Unexcused PDF 175 KB
To report the views of the IRP to the
Committee and to seek approval for a proposed process for
recommendation to Council
The Committee was reminded that
as part of its review of the Members’ Allowances Scheme, the
Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) had recommended that an annual
£500 performance related Special Responsibility
Allowance (SRA) be established; in
conjunction with a reduction in the basic allowance for councillors
of the same amount. All Members would be entitled to claim this
SRA, if they had attended 70% of their scheduled meetings and
compulsory training events.
The Committee was also reminded
that the IRP’s recommendations had been accepted by Council
and that the Performance SRA would come into operation at the start
of the new local government year, in May 2017.
At its last meeting, the
Committee had raised practical concerns about how the Performance
SRA would operate. It had sought clarification about what should be
classed as an excused or unexcused absence when calculating whether
a Member had attended sufficient meetings or training events to
qualify for the SRA.
Members hoped that in practice
this would not be a significant problem and that most Councillors
would attend more than 70% of meetings or training events. They
heard that the latest figures indicated that only 3 Members might
not reach the threshold based on their attendance levels during the
current year. The Committee was reassured by this.
Members were informed that the
Independent Review Panel had been asked to consider these concerns
and provide guidance on what criteria should be used to determine
excused and unexcused absences. The Panel’s guidance was
attached to the report to Committee.
Members were asked to consider this and, if appropriate, provide
any comments before it was considered by Council, on 20 April
The Committee discussed the
report and the IRP’s guidance. In particular, Members noted
that the IRP had concluded that work commitments do not constitute
a legitimate reason for absence, on the grounds that to do so would
mean that he or she would be paid twice - once for their work and
once for non-attendance at the meeting.
Some Members of the Committee
felt that this approach might make it more difficult to attract
people to serve on the Council.
Specific concern was raised about those emergency service workers
who might be required to attend work at short notice, such as
police officers or hospital medical staff. The Committee felt that
the criteria for determining excused and unexcused absences should
reflect this. It was generally felt that a provision for excused
absences due to ‘exceptional circumstances’ ought to be
considered by Council.
The Committee discussed
absences due to care commitments. Members were informed that the
Panel had clarified the leave which adoptive parents can take. The
Committee welcomed this. The IRP guidance also made it clear that
caring for dependents under 14 had been specifically excluded as an
excuse for absences. In this context, the Committee asked for
clarification about whether under the Members’ Allowances
Scheme Councillors could claim if they had to arrange for adult
care cover in order to attend a meeting or training ...
view the full minutes text for item 20.
Annual Constitution Review PDF 208 KB
To inform the Committee of proposed changes to
the Constitution and to see the views of the Committee.
The report to Committee
outlined the proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution
that would be submitted to Annual Council. The Monitoring Officer
explained the proposed changes. These included an alteration to the
remit of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to incorporate
housing scrutiny. This had previously been agreed by Council in
October 2016. She also pointed out that the scheme of delegation
would need to be amended to reflect new employee structures and job
titles, subject to the implementation of the proposed Corporate
Leadership Team (CLT) restructure.
Specific mention was made of a
change affecting the Chief Officers Employment Committee. Instead
of requiring the whole Committee to participate in employee
interviews it was proposed that a Panel be established to do
this. Members discussed how this might
work and the arrangements for ensuring political
Mrs Dennis went on to explain
the proposed changes to the Council’s Rules of Procedure on
questions at Council meetings. She
informed the Committee that currently any question judged by the
Chief Executive and the Chairman of the Council to be
‘vexatious, scurrilous or otherwise improper’ could not
be asked at the meeting. It was proposed to change this wording in
line with best practice to prohibit questions that were
‘defamatory, frivolous or offensive’.
The Committee discussed this
change. Some concern was expressed that in practice it might be
difficult to define these terms and specifically to define what
constitutes a frivolous question.
The Committee heard and
welcomed the proposal to define the mandatory training that
Councillors would have to attend and the frequency for
this. As part of the discussion Members
considered how training is delivered. There was a consensus that a
range of methods should be used, including the use of e-training
Finally, the Committee was
informed that it was proposed to amend the Rules of Procedure so
that Members could no longer substitute at Planning Committee,
Licensing Committee (and its Sub-Committees) and Standards
There was an extensive
discussion about this proposal. Some Members emphasised the special
nature of these ‘quasi-judicial’ meetings and that
those taking the decisions should build-up a body of expertise in
the area, which substitute Members could not gain by occasionally
attending meetings. Others argued that individual Members who had
received the necessary relevant training should be able to make the
judgement about whether they felt competent to act as a substitute.
They also suggested that this would preclude Councillors who had
gained valuable expertise in these areas through their service on
other authorities, or who had a particular local perspective, from
contributing to the process.
During the discussion it was
suggested that a panel or panels of substitute Members could be
established who would be able to serve on these bodies. It was
noted that other authorities already do this.
The Monitoring Officer agreed
to consider the Committee’s comments and to reflect them in
the proposed changes to the Constitution submitted to Annual
To note the proposed changes to
the Council’s Constitution.
view the full minutes text for item 21.
Annual Ethical Governance Review PDF 187 KB
To give the Committee an overview of the work
of the Committee in the past year.
Members received a report which
summarised the Committee’s work programme during the 2016-17.
This explained that all of the topics in the programme had been
dealt with and that the Committee had achieved this on
Members were informed by the
Monitoring Officer that despite carrying out two recruitment
exercises it had not proved possible to attract applicants to serve
as co-opted Members of the Committee. There was agreement that the
Committee should continue to try and appoint co-opted Members, but
that new ways of achieving this goal ought to be adopted. In
particular, the Committee suggested that members of the Citizens
Panel could be approached and encouraged to take on the role. Mrs
Dennis agreed to investigate this.
The Committee then had a
preliminary discussion about the topics that should be included in
the 2017-18 work programme. Members agreed to contact Mrs Dennis
with suggestions for suitable topics.
The report also summarised the
number of Member Complaints that had been received and how this had
changed compared to previous years.
That the Committee notes the progress made in
relation to the agreed work plan;
That the option of recruiting co-opted Members to serve on the Committee from
the Citizens Panel be explored;
That the Committee considers work items to be
included in next year’s agreed work plan and forwards any
suggestions to the Monitoring Officer;
That the Committee notes the number and types of
Member Complaints received during the year as summarised in the
To enable the Committee to
carry out its role in monitoring ethical governance.
Annual Review of the Whistleblowing Policy PDF 151 KB
To update members in respect of the use of the
policy in the past year and to review the policy.
The Monitoring Officer reported
that the bi-annual review of the Council’s Whistleblowing
Policy had taken place. The policy had been found to be fit for
purpose and no substantive changes to it had been recommended. In
this context, Members noted that there had been two complaints
under the policy last year. No complaints have been received to
date during 2017.
That the Committee notes the
review of the Whistleblowing policy and how it has operated in the
preceding 12 months.
To ensure the Committee is
adequately informed to enable it to monitor the operation of the
Whistleblowing Policy in accordance with the Committee’s
terms of reference.
Quarterly Complaints Monitoring Report PDF 147 KB
To update Members regarding Members Code of
The report to Committee
provided information on complaints of alleged Member misconduct and
the progress that had been made in assessing them, for the period 3
December 2016 to 17 March 2017. Members were informed that
Complaint AD2016-01 was now subject of an in-house investigation in
order to avoid external costs. They were also informed that ADC
2016-03 had been dealt with informally. The Committee heard that
two new complaints involving District Councillors had been received
and three complaints involving Parish Councillors.
Members discussed the timescale
for resolving disputes. The Committee heard that more legal
officers were now being trained to deal with these complaints,
which would hopefully speed up the process.
That the Committee notes the
updated position in respect of Members’ Code of Conduct
Complaints for the period 3 December 2016 to 17 March