To consider a report of the Head of Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer regarding the recommendations and best practice proposed by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) as a result of its review into Local Government Ethical Standards.
The Panel considered a report of the Head of Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer (Item 6 in the Minute Book) regarding the recommendations and best practice proposed by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) as a result of its review into Local Government Ethical Standards.
The Head of Law and Governance took Members through the report and explained the purpose for bringing this to the Panel’s attention. It was heard that proposed changes to the Members’ Code of Conduct would be considered in due course after publication of an updated Code of Conduct by the Local Government Association, recommended by the CSPL. In the meantime, some of the best practice points could be considered by the Panel as they affected The Arrangements for the Assessment, Investigation and Determination of Allegations of Breach of the Code of Conduct for Members, which the Panel had delegated authority to approve.
The Head of Law and Governance took Members through the proposed changes to The Arrangements as highlighted in Appendix C to the report. These included provision for delegation to the Deputy Monitoring Officer if a conflict of interest arose for the Monitoring Officer in relation to a complaint, and to allow for the publication of a decision notice after a hearing panel. Members noted that the hearing panel would determine the arrangements for such notice. Section three of the Arrangements was also highlighted which set out the initial validation of a complaint, and Members were taken through the process for this.
The Panel queried the number of complaints brought against Members and it was noted that these were infrequent, as were hearing panel meetings. The role of an Independent Person in the Member complaint process was also explained, as well as their recruitment to the role. The Panel were appreciative of the report being brought to their awareness at this point in time, and were content with the recommendations proposed.
The Conduct Advisory Panel:
· Agreed that, once the updated model Local Government Code of Conduct has been published, the County Council’s Code of Conduct for Members should be reviewed to take account of the new model provisions and to adopt best practice points 1 and 2 of the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s review of Local Government Ethical Standards;
· Agreed that thereafter the revised Code of Conduct be presented to the Conduct Advisory Panel for approval and recommendation to the County Council;
· Approved the proposed amendments to paragraphs 2.6, 10.2 and 12.2 and 12.2.1 of the County Council’s Arrangements for the Assessment, Investigation and Determination of Complaints that a Member or Co-opted Member of the County Council has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct for Members as set out in Appendix C; and
· Requested that the Head of Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer bring best practice point 14 of the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report to the attention of the Audit Committee at the time the Committee next considers the County Council’s Annual Governance Statement.