Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Ascot and Bray - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Karen Shepherd  01628 796529

Audio-recording: To listen, click here or to download and listen later, right click and save as an mp3

Items
No. Item

5.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

None received

6.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To consider any declarations of interest

Minutes:

Councillor Targowska requested that it be noted for transparency purposes that her husband, the Cabinet Policy Manager, had been involved in the drafting of the report.

7.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 29 October 2016.

Minutes:

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 29 October 2015 be approved.

8.

Members' Code of Conduct Review pdf icon PDF 404 KB

To consider the above report

Minutes:

Members considered a review of the Members’ Code of Conduct (Part 7A of the RBWM Constitution). The Chairman explained that the report recommended that no changes be made to the Code of Conduct itself, other than minor changes to Appendix 4. The main change proposed was to move  responsibility for dealing with and investigating complaints from the Managing Director to the Monitoring Officer., in consultation with the Independent Person. Greater rigour around anonymous complaints was also proposed, including formal criteria to determine if a complaint should be investigated. The criteria included if there was sufficient evidence and whether the matter was in the public interest. Complaints would have to be made on a standard form, to ensure consistency. A set of timescales would also be set out so that all parties were clear over the process.

 

It was confirmed that an analysis of other local authorities showed that in the majority of cases the Monitoring Officer dealt with complaints. There were a mixture of Member panels with varying roles; some decided if a complaint should be investigated or not, some just dealt with the output of an investigation. It was noted that in Wokingham a Member panel considered the outcome of investigation reports. Members could potentially be involved in determining an appropriate sanction if a breach were found. Councillor Bicknell commented that he felt a Member panel would be over the top; he suggested any consultation could be undertaken by phone or email. He also commented on his own experience with the process and the need for clear timescales and updates.

 

Councillor Story joined the meeting at 5.38pm.

 

The Monitoring Officer commented that he had the benefit of a very experienced and well-qualified Independent Person, who provided concise written views on investigation reports. He confirmed that since he had been in the role of Monitoring Officer, three incidents had been brought to his attention where he had decided no further action should be taken as there had been no evidence base. He had consulted the Independent Person on one of these occasions, who had been in agreement. He highlighted that those complainants wishing to remain anonymous would be required to provide a certain level of evidence to demonstrate the complaint was not frivolous.  

 

It was confirmed that any sanction would be in the form of a recommendation from the Monitoring Officer to the relevant Group Leader.

 

Councillor Bicknell commented that he felt notification to the council’s insurance manager that a councillor was seeking legal advice should be part of the process. The Chairman suggested that the Councillor should inform the Monitoring Officer, who would then liaise with the insurance manager. The Monitoring Officer explained that the definition of ‘reasonable’ legal costs was set out in legislation and also in the council’s insurance policy.

 

Councillor Bicknell left the meeting at 5.49pm.

 

It was explained that in the majority of local authorities complaints were dealt with by the Monitoring Officer rather than the Managing Director, in order to maintain the relationship between  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.