Minutes

Proposed venue: Council Chamber - Town Hall, Maidenhead. View directions

Contact: Karen Shepherd  01628 796529

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for Absence was received from Councillor Jenner.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None received

3.

Minutes

Minutes:

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2015 be approved.

 

4.

Constitutional Changes - Member/Officer Protocol

Minutes:

Members considered possible options relating to ‘Part 7D – Member / Officer Protocol’ in particular to procedures where information was supplied to Councillors.

 

The Chairman reminded Members that he had originally proposed a change at Full Council on 24 September 2015, to reinstate a paragraph that had been removed relating to factual information held by the council, and available to any councillor or member of the public. When a councillor accessed the information, the relevant Panel Chairman and Lead Member should also be told. He felt this was a proper, equitable and fair clause and the situation was no different to a Freedom of Information request where both the request and response were published on the website. To have a different standard for councillors would be perverse, backward and bizarre. He therefore proposed the clause be reinstated.

 

Councillor Dudley commented that he was aware the clause used to feature in the constitution and asked when it had been removed. The Chairman stated that he was aware the clause had been in place during the previous administration. It had probably been removed, for reasons unknown, during the last major review of the constitution in 2009. The absence caused problems for officers who were put in a  difficult position and unsure of the obligation to confidentiality. The proposal would remove any ambiguity.

 

Councillor Dudley commented that a fair understanding of the facts was an important principle between the administration and the opposition, to enable Members to debate the facts on the substance of an issue. There was a potential that, without the clause, officers would be put in a difficult position.

 

Councillor Bicknell asked the Opposition Members what problems they had with the proposal. He understood that if the issue came under Freedom of information, everyone would be able to know anyway. If the issue was confidential, this was not being disputed. The Chairman commented that if a Councillor accessed Part II information, that would not be accessible to the public, but it would still be available to other councillors.

 

Councillor Mrs Jones stated that she had no problem with factual information. However she was concerned as there was no need for a Lead Member to know who had asked for the information, therefore she felt that emails going to an officer should not be passed on. If a councillor had received agreement from a resident to forward on a trail of emails to an officer, the officer would then be in the position of having to decide whether or not to forward it on. The Chairman commented that such information would become a public document once inside the council network anyway, apart from the private information relating to a resident. The Interim Monitoring Officer confirmed that information provided in confidence would be excluded from Freedom of Information. Councillor Mrs Jones stated that she had no problem with data resulting from her request being distributed, but she was concerned about her correspondence. The Chairman commented that as soon as it was submitted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.