Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee - Monday, 12th October, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Neil Carr  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist

Note: Virtual 

Media

Items
No. Item

28.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Gary Cowan, Graham Howe and Roy Mantel (Twyford Parish Council).

29.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 1 July 2020.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 1 July 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman at a later date.

30.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

31.

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 www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

32.

Member Question Time

To answer any Member questions.

Minutes:

There were no Member questions.

33.

Parish / Town Council Question Time

To answer any questions from Parish / Town Councillors.

Minutes:

There were no Town or Parish Council questions.

34.

Consultation on WBC Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To approve the consultation document relating to the proposed public consultation on the WBC Code of Conduct for Councillors.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 7 to 28, which gave details of a public consultation document on the Council’s Code of Conduct for Councillors.

 

The report stated that the Committee had agreed to carry out a consultation exercise relating to the overall provisions of the Code of Conduct and specific changes agreed in principle by Members.

 

Appended to the report was the draft consultation document and a copy of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Model Member Code of Conduct. It was considered that the Council’s Code of Conduct was consistent with the provisions in the LGA model code.

 

It was proposed to run the consultation exercise up to 11 December 2020. Any feedback would then be considered by the Committee at its meeting in January 2021. Specific feedback would be sought from Town and Parish Councils as they shared the WBC Code of Conduct.

 

Following approval by the Committee, in January 2021, the amended Code of Conduct would be submitted to the Constitution Review Working Group prior to approval by the full Council.

 

Sally Gurney suggested that the consultation document should include reference to the seven “Nolan” principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

 

RESOLVED That:

 

1)     the Code of Conduct consultation document be confirmed, subject to inclusion of the seven Nolan principles of public life;

 

2)     the Committee receive a further report, at its meeting in January 2021, on the results of the public consultation;

 

3)     following agreement on the final changes to the Code of Conduct, a report be submitted to the Constitution Review Working Group prior to approval by the full Council;

 

4)     the LGA Model Member Code of Conduct be noted.

35.

Update on Complaints and Feedback pdf icon PDF 471 KB

To consider an update on Code of Conduct complaints and any issues arising.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 29 to 34, which gave details of progress relating to Code of Conduct complaints investigated since the previous meeting.

 

The report stated that, since the 1 July 2020 meeting, three new complaints had been received. A summary of the complaints was appended to the report together with progress in resolving earlier, ongoing complaints.

 

Andrew Moulton (Monitoring Officer) confirmed that two additional complaints had been received, details of which would be included in the report to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

In the ongoing discussion, Members raised the following points:

 

Members reiterated earlier concerns about the timeframe for investigation and reporting the outcome of Code of Conduct complaints.

 

It was noted that a number of complaints related to a perceived lack of social distancing by Members attending public events. Members felt that the Standards Committee was not the appropriate body to deal with alleged breaches of the social distancing guidelines.

 

It was suggested that the Monitoring Officer write to all Members to remind them of the importance of social distancing at public events and to advise them on appropriate steps to take in the event that constituents accidentally breached the distancing guidelines whilst discussing local issues or seeking advice.

 

RESOLVED: That the update report on Code of Conduct complaints be noted.