Venue: Council Chamber - Rotherham Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 2TH. View directions
Contact: Debbie Pons, Governance Advisor Email: email@example.com
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.
Parish Councillor Buckley declared a personal interest in Minute No. 6 (Consideration of Complaints) on the grounds of knowing about one of the complaints submitted.
Councillor Yasseen declared a personal interest in Minute No. 6 (Consideration of Complaints) on the grounds of knowing about one of the complaints submitted.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.
Agenda Items 6, and 7 are all exempt from the press and public.
That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for (Minute Nos. 5 and 6 (Whistleblowing and Complaints)) on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.
To consider and approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 10th March, 2022 as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
Consideration was given to the minutes of the previous meeting held on 10th March, 2022.
The Chair sought an assurance that the definition list for any acronyms be included in future reports.
Resolved:- That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 10th March, 2022 be approved as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
To consider the report which sets out the Government response to the Review of Local Government Ethical Standards undertaken by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
Consideration was given to the report presented by the Service Manager which detailed how during 2018, the Committee on Standards in Public Life undertook a review of Local Government ethical standards.
This Committee contributed to the consultation which was undertaken in respect of the review. The Committee on Standards in Public Life report was published in January 2019 and reported to this Committee in March 2019 subsequently in terms of implementation of recommendations.
Many of the recommendations within the Committee on Standards in Public Life review in relation to the sanctions available to local authorities for breaches of the Code of Conduct required amendments to legislation and as such were directed to the Government. The Government’s response to the report had now been published.
The Committee went on to consider the Government response and each recommendation in turn and whether any amendments to the adopted model Code of Conduct should be recommended to Council; or if there were any further comments on the Government’s position. The full response was included as an appendix to the report.
The Committee made the following comments in turn:-
Recommendation 1 - The Local Government Association should create an updated model code of conduct, in consultation with representative bodies of councillors and officers of all tiers of local government.
· Complete and adopted.
No further action required.
Recommendation 2 - The government should ensure that candidates standing for or accepting public offices are not required publicly to disclose their home address. The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 should be amended to clarify that a councillor does not need to register their home address on an authority’s register of interests.
· Sensitivity given to any disclosures if concerns were provided in advance of any elections.
· Candidates could opt to be excluded from the edited version of the Register of Electors.
No further action required.
Recommendation 3 - Councillors should be presumed to be acting in an official capacity in their public conduct, including statements on publicly accessible social media. Section 27(2) of the Localism Act 2011 should be amended to permit local authorities to presume so when deciding upon code of conduct breaches.
· The difficulty in separating personal and official capacities for those democratically elected.
· The risks on social media of bringing the office of Councillor into disrepute.
· The wording in the model Code of Conduct was very clear.
· The risk to Elected Members and the potential for being placed in unreasonable situations.
· To strengthen the protection of Councillors.
· Appropriate and inappropriate use of social media.
· Infringement of an Elected Member’s right to free speech.
To continue to monitor.
Recommendation 4 - Section 27(2) of the Localism Act 2011 should be amended to state that a local authority’s code of conduct applies to a member when they claim to act, or give the impression they are acting, in their capacity as a member or as a representative of the local authority.
· Welcome the opportunity to keep under review.
· Benefits of social media.
· Ensure appropriate training ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
A Review of Concerns Raised Pursuant to the Whistleblowing Policy
To give consideration to a report regarding concerns raised pursuant to the Whistleblowing Policy and the actions taken to address these matters.
Consideration was given to the report and appendix presented by the Service Manager which provided an overview of the Whistleblowing cases which have been received over the past year.
Particular reference was made to the appendix to the report which set out clearly the description of the concerns received and action taken.
Resolved:- That the Whistleblowing concerns raised over the previous year and the actions taken to address these matters be noted.
Review of Complaints
To give consideration to a report updating the Committee on the Complaints received against Members of the Council, and Town and Parish Councillors alleging a breach of the Code of Conduct.
Consideration was given to the report presented by the Service Manager, detailing the progress with the handling of complaints relating to breaches of the Council’s Code of Conduct for Members and Town and Parish Councillors. The report listed the current cases of complaint and the action being taken in respect of each one.
Reference was made to each related case and recommended outcomes/actions identified were highlighted.
Resolved:- That the report be received and the contents noted.
To determine any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
The Chair advised that there were no urgent items of business requiring the Committee’s consideration.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Standards and Ethics Committee will take place on Thursday, 15th September, 2022, commencing at 2.00 p.m.
Resolved:- That the next meeting of the Standards and Ethics Committee be held on Thursday, 15th September, 2022, commencing at 2.00 p.m.