Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee - Monday, 11th October, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN

Contact: Neil Carr  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist


No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were submitted from Roy Mantel.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 417 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 July 2021.



The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 19 July 2021 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Note: Sally Gurney referred to the discussions on updating the Member Code of conduct and highlighted the need for a consistent definition of “co-opted” member in the relevant procedures and documents.


Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest.


Public Question Time

To answer any public questions.


A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.


The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this Committee.


Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to


There were no public questions.


Member Question Time

To answer any Member questions.


There were no Member questions.


Parish / Town Council Question Time

To answer any questions from Parish / Town Councillors.


There were no questions from Town and Parish Councillors.


Process for handling Member Code of Conduct Complaints pdf icon PDF 418 KB

To consider an evaluation of the Council’s procedures for handling Councillor Code of Conduct complaints.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 9 to 18, which gave details of an independent review of the Council’s arrangements for handling Member Code of Conduct complaints.


The report stated that the Committee had agreed to commission the review from Hoey Ainscough Associates Ltd., an independent company with significant experience and expertise relating to standards in local government. The review had benchmarked the Council’s procedures against good practice and the recommendations made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.


The report stated that, in summary, the independent review concluded that the Council’s procedures were broadly in line with most authorities and represented good practice in many aspects. However, there were a number of comments on specific aspects of the procedures which the Committee may wish to consider. Paul Hoey attended the meeting to provide further analysis and to answer Member questions.


The Committee considered the following recommendations, set out in the Hoey Ainscough report:


·           Process for Considering Code of Conduct Complaints – this detailed process document was available online but not on the WBC website.


Recommendation – that the document “Process for Considering Code of Conduct Complaints” be added to the Council website along with a copy of the Code of Conduct.


·           Receipt and acknowledgement of a complaint – WBC’s internal timescale for acknowledgement of a complaint was three working days.


Recommendation – that the three working day timescale for acknowledgement of a complaint be formalised by adding it to the process.


·           Timescale for the Subject Member to comment on the complaint.


Recommendation – that the Subject Member should be given a timescale within which to provide comments and if no comments are received, the Monitoring Officer should proceed without the comments. Furthermore, the Monitoring Officer should not go back to the complainant for clarification in relation to any comments received by the Subject Member – this could form part of the investigation if necessary.


Note: The Committee agreed that a timescale of 15 working days was appropriate for Subject Member comments – this timescale to be extended at the Monitoring Officer’s discretion. 


·           In Parish or Town Council cases the process stated that the Monitoring Officer would seek the Clerk’s views, but it was not clear what the Clerk was being asked to comment on.


Recommendation – that the Clerk’s views be sought on factual matters (e.g. was the Member present at the meeting complained about) rather than matters of opinion.


·           Initial assessment of complaints currently undertaken by the Monitoring Officer in conjunction with an Independent Person and the Chairman of the Standards Committee.


Recommendation – that the Monitoring Officer only consult with the Independent Person when carrying out the initial assessment and deciding on a course of action.


·           Informal resolution – in cases where informal resolution has been pursued but has not been successful, the Council should reserve the option to refer the matter for formal investigation.


Recommendation – that the Monitoring Officer be able to refer a complaint for investigation where it is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Update on Complaints pdf icon PDF 293 KB

To consider the Monitoring Officer’s regular update report on progress relating to Code of Conduct complaints.


The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 19 to 24, which provided an update on progress relating to Councillor Code of Conduct complaints.


The report stated that, since the previous meeting of the Committee, on 19 July 2021, four new complaints had been received. In addition, a number of complaints had been progressed.


Andrew Moulton, Monitoring Officer, provided a progress report on each of the complaints (set out at Appendix A to the report). Andrew stated that he would be writing to all Members about the proposed changes to the complaints handling process, as discussed earlier in the meeting.


Andrew stated that he would also be meeting with Town and Parish Clerks to discuss the impact of the Borough Council’s updated Code of Conduct and amended procedures. It was noted that Town and Parish Councils had a discretion relating to the adoption of the LGA Model Code of Conduct.


Members suggested that Andrew consider additional guidance to Members on virtual/hybrid meetings and issues relating to dealing with the media.




1)     the update on Councillor Code of Conduct complaints be noted;


2)     the Monitoring Officer consider the provision of additional guidance to Members on conduct in virtual/hybrid meetings and issues relating to dealing with the media.