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Agenda and minutes

Standards and Ethics Committee
Thursday, 11th March, 2010 2.00 p.m.

Venue: Bailey House, Rawmarsh Road, Rotherham.

Contact: Alan Harston (Tel. 01709 822056)  (E-mail:-  alan.harston@rotherham.gov.uk)

Items
No. Item

58.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Minutes:

Resolved:- (1) That the minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 11th February, 2010 be approved as a correct record.

 

(2) That arising from the minutes:-

 

A. Assessing the Impact of Standards Committees – Working with Town and Parish Councils

 

The Committee welcomed Jan Leyland, Neighbourhoods Partnership Manager, who explained her role briefly and the role of Paul Griffiths, Community Liaison Officer.

 

Particular reference was made to notable practice Case Study 2 – Working with Town and Parish Councils – Taunton Deane Borough Council and the role of the Parish Liaison Officer.

 

Part of Paul’s role was to support parish councils/parish network and it was felt that, within his existing role, he could assist in awareness raising/training issues.

 

It was noted that the next Parish Network meeting was to be held on 19th May, 2010 and it was hoped that, on invitation, a member of the Standards Committee could attend.

 

Resolved:- (i) That the information be noted.

 

(ii) That Paul’s role as Community Liaison Officer be looked at to see where he could, within his role of support to town and parish councils, assist in raising awareness of ethics and standards.

 

B. Ethical Standards Survey

 

The Committee considered the notes and potential action points of the Working Group established to consider the results of the above. The Working Group met on 11th February, 2010 to consider the responses from the members and officers of Rotherham Borough Council.

 

The Committee focused on the training issues raised and the potential provision of a very senior figure within the Authority to act as guardian/champion to support anyone wishing to raise concerns under the Whistleblowing policy.

 

Resolved:- (1) That the Working Group meet again to discuss in more detail the training issues raised. Relevant officers to attend such meeting.

 

(2) That the provision of a very senior figure to act as guardian/champion for anyone raising concerns under the whistleblowing policy be pursued.

59.

Members' Web Pages pdf icon PDF 29 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Further to Minutes Nos. 48 and 53 of the meetings of this Committee held on 12th March and 9th April, 2009 respectively, the Assistant Chief Executive, Legal and Democratic Services, presented the submitted report clarifying the position regarding:-

 

-          person or section responsible for inputting data on members’ web pages

 

-          person or section responsible for vetting members’ web pages

 

-          links to other web pages

 

Legal advice was set out regarding links to other websites.

 

The draft members’ web pages policy, taking account of advice received, was appended to the report.

 

Discussion and a question and answer session ensued and the following issues were covered:-

 

-          timescale involved in requesting an update to the web page and it being implemented

 

-          links to political websites

 

-          control over content of external websites

 

-          facility for Councillors to opt out of having a web page

 

Resolved:- That, as far as this Committee is concerned, the amended policy, as now submitted, be approved subject to Councillors having the option not to have a personal web page.

60.

Standards for England Annual Return HTM 6 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Chief Executive, Legal and Democratic Services, presented the submitted paperwork from Standards for England including the preview questions of the 2010 Annual Return and guidance notes.

 

The Committee considered the questions in turn identifying comments to be made as part of the formal response and identifying areas needing further clarification/information.

 

Resolved:- That the information be noted.

61.

Allegation of Misconduct - Councillor G. Winfrow pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Chief Executive, Legal and Democratic Services, presented the submitted report indicating ongoing investigations in respect of two separate allegations against Councillor G. Winfrow of Anston Parish Council.

 

It was reported that, sadly, Councillor Winfrow had died on 6th February, 2010.

 

Resolved:- That, in light of Councillor Winfrow’s death on 6th February, 2010, the investigations into allegations that, on two occasions, he breached Anston Parish Council’s Code of Conduct be discontinued.

62.

Review of the Local Code of Corporate Governance pdf icon PDF 203 KB

Minutes:

Colin Earl, Director of Internal Audit and Governance, presented the submitted report indicating that it was good practice to review the Local Code of Corporate Governance annually.

 

The report proposed changes to the Council’s Local Code of Corporate Governance to bring it up to date with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s “Statement on the Role of the Chief Financial Officer in Public Service Organisations” which was launched in June, 2009.

 

The report set out the amendments to CIPFA/SOLACE guidance “Delivering Good Governance in Local Government Framework” resulting from the Statement on the Role of the Chief Finance Officer in Public Service Organisations covering the following standards:-

 

1.         -     Focusing on the purpose of the authority and on outcomes for the community and creating and implementing a vision for the local area

 

2          -     Members and officers working together to achieve a common purpose with clearly defined functions and roles

 

3          -     Promoting values for the authority and demonstrating the values of good governance through upholding high standards of conduct and behaviour

 

4          -     Taking informed and transparent decisions which are subject to effective scrutiny and managing risk

 

5          -     Developing the capacity and capability of members and officers to be effective

 

6          -     Engaging with local people and other stakeholders to ensure robust public accountability

 

The proposed revised Local Code of Corporate Governance 2010 was appended to the report.

 

Resolved:- (1) That the updated Local Code of Corporate Governance be noted.

 

(2) That it be noted that the Code would be used to help test the effectiveness of the Council’s governance arrangements in order to inform the production of the Annual Governance Statement.

63.

Standards for England - Bulletin 47 pdf icon PDF 237 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the latest bulletin covering :-

 

-          2010 Annual Assembly of Standards Committees ‘A Place for Standards’

 

-          Stakeholder Tracker 2009 : ‘A Qualitative Assessment of Advice and Guidance’

 

-          Reminder to send hearing decision notices

 

-          Adjudication Panel for England becomes known as First Tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England)

 

-          Our Risk Based Approach

 

-          Social Networking : An Effective Medium of Communication but not without risk

 

-          Standards Committees can take a lead from ‘notable practice’

 

-          Impartial and Objective Investigators

 

-          Have your say

 

-          Delay on the New Code of Conduct

 

-          Charitable Trustees and declarations of interest under the Code

 

-          Blogging Guide

 

Resolved:- (1) That the information be noted.

 

(2) That the Chair and Vice-Chair, or substitutes, be authorised to attend the Annual Assembly of Standards Committees in Birmingham on 19th October, 2010.

64.

Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted the latest position.

65.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following item is likely to be considered in the absence of the press and public being as exempt under Paragraph 7(a) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (information subject to an obligation of confidentiality)

Minutes:

Resolved:- That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 7A of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (information which is subject to an obligation of confidentiality).

 

66.

Maltby Town Council - MESH Report

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. B6 of the meeting of this Committee held on 6th May, 2009, the Assistant Chief Executive, Legal and Democratic Services, presented the submitted final draft report from the mediators appointed to undertake work with Maltby Town Councillors concerning disputes and allegations about the conduct of members.

 

The report covered:-

 

-          terms of reference

-          about mediation

-          methodology and summary of activities

-          findings

-          identification of underlying causes

-          conclusions

 

Discussion and a question and answer session ensued.

 

Resolved:- That the mediators be invited to the next meeting of the Committee to discuss the content of the report.