Venue: CONFERENCE ROOM 1b, COUNTY HALL, RUTHIN
No apologies were received.
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
The following interests were identified in business items to be considered at the meeting.
Agenda Item 3:- “Application to extend the Dispensation to Members of Rhyl Town Council” – A personal and prejudicial interest was declared by Councillor B. Mellor. The reason for the declaration was that the respective Committee Member was a Member of Rhyl Town Council.
To consider a report by the Deputy Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed) to extend a dispensation granted on the 6th March, 2015 by a further 12 months.
Councillor B. Mellor vacated the meeting at this point.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer (DMO) submitted a report (previously circulated) on the application made to extend, by a further 12 months, the dispensation which had been granted on the 6th March 2015. Rhyl Town Council had requested the Committee reconsider the dispensation and were seeking an extension. The original report dated the 6th March, 2015 had been attached as Appendix 1.
The DMO explained that it had been requested that the Committee grant a dispensation, pursuant to Regulation 2(a) and (d) of the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001, to full Council, including those new Members of the Town Council, based on the terms as originally granted. The dispensation granted on the 6th March, 2015 had been granted in accordance with the conditions set out below:-
(i) the Dispensation applies only to matters considered by Rhyl Town Council relating to the Rhyl in Bloom Committee (or such other name it is replaced by);
(ii) the Members must still declare a personal interest at the meeting(s) at which such items are discussed. They may then speak and vote in so far as they are permitted to do so by this Dispensation;
(iii) the Dispensation will apply for 12 months from the date of this Standards Committee meeting (6 March 2015). Thereafter, the Clerk of Rhyl Town Council is to apply in writing to the Monitoring Officer for an extension to the Dispensation and setting the Rhyl in Bloom Committee (or such other name it is replaced by) activities;
(iv) on election of a new Member, the Clerk of Rhyl Town Council to notify the Monitoring Officer in writing for the Dispensation to be applied to the new Member.
Since the original dispensation had been granted Councillors Stanley Frederick Walker, Jacquie McAlpine and Anthony Thomas had been elected to the Council and would require to be included in the dispensation.
Mr Gareth Nickels, Clerk to Rhyl Town Council (CRTC), was in attendance and provided a summary of the application, and details of Rhyl Town Council Members involvement and activities in relation to the Rhyl in Bloom Committee. At this point the CRTC vacated the meeting.
The following concerns and issues were raised by Members of the Committee:-
- Independent Member, J. Hughes (JH) referred to 4. (iv) of the report “on election of a new Member, the Clerk of Rhyl Town Council to notify the Monitoring Officer in writing for the Dispensation to be applied to the new Member”. She expressed concern that a newly appointed Member could be granted Dispensation without referral to the Monitoring Officer or the Standards Committee, which might be perceived as a form of prejudice or a weakness in the process.
- Members felt that the dispensation should be granted to all current Members of the Rhyl Town Council, and that the Monitoring Officer be informed in writing of the election of any new Member or Members, and ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To consider a report by the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed) on the proposed changes made to the Model Code of Conduct for Wales.
The Monitoring Officer submitted a report (previously circulated) on the proposed changes made to the Model Code of Conduct for Wales as a result of a recent statutory instrument signed by the Minister for Public Services entitled Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer (DMO) advised Members of the proposed changes to the Code of Conduct brought about by the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016, (the Order). The Minister for Public Services had signed the Order which had come into effect from 1st April, 2016.
The Order made changes to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) applicable to Members of Local Authorities (LA’s) in Wales. Every LA would be obliged to adopt a Code of Conduct for its Members, which included all of the provisions of the MCC. LA’s may adopt a Code of Conduct which contained additional provisions to those of the Model provided that those additions did not detract from the effect of the Model provisions.
Denbighshire’s Code of Conduct differed from the existing Model in two respects. Firstly, it contained a requirement that all Members attend training on the Code of Conduct at least once in every term. Secondly it placed a value of £25 over which any gifts or hospitality must be declared. This provision had been adopted to avoid inadvertent breach of the Code by Members. It was suggested that these variations from the new Model Code be retained. Members agreed that details pertaining to the value of gifts or hospitality to be declared, be conveyed to the City, Town and Community Councils.
The Order changed the MCC in the following ways:-
· Paragraph 10(2)(b) was omitted from the MCC. This paragraph had caused difficulties in the past given the difference between the policy intention of its inclusion and a strict interpretation of the language used in the paragraph. A strict interpretation of the paragraph, as worded, could preclude Members from participating in any decision affecting their ward whereas the underlying policy intention was to limit the scope of this provision to decisions made by individual Councillors in the exercise of executive functions. The removal of the paragraph avoided this ambiguity.
· The obligation on a Member to report a potential breach of the Code to the Ombudsman was removed. The requirement to report such a breach to the Monitoring Officer was retained.
· Paragraph 15 of the MCC deals with the register of Member’s interests and was amended to clarify that any interest disclosed for the first time by a Member must be entered in the register. The exemption for Town and Community Councillors from the requirement to register, in advance, certain financial and other interests, listed in paragraph 10(2)(a) of the Code, was maintained.
· The Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 transferred responsibility for maintaining the register of interests of Members of Town and Community Councils from the Monitoring Officer of the County Council for the area to the “Proper Officer” ... view the full minutes text for item 4.