Venue: Via video conference
Apologies were received from independent member Anne Mellor.
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
Councillor Paul Penlington declared a personal interest in
Agenda item 12 as reference to historical complaints were included.
Councillor Ann Davies an observer at the meeting declared a
prejudicial interest in Agenda item 12 with reference to ongoing
Independent member Julia Hughes reminded members that she
represented Standards Committee on Flintshire County Council and the North
Wales Fire and Rescue Standards Committee.
URGENT MATTERS AS AGREED BY THE CHAIR
Notice of items which, in the opinion of the Chair, should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency pursuant to Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972.
There were no urgent items.
To receive the minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 4 December 2020 (copy enclosed).
of the Standards Committee meeting held on 04 December 2020 were submitted.
Members asked the Monitoring Officer if the Code of Conduct Casebook had been made available. The Monitoring officer confirmed the update to the Casebook had still not been published.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 4 December 2020 be confirmed as a correct record.
ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS
To note the attendance by members of the Standards Committee at County, Town and Community Council and to receive their reports.
The Chair stated that due to the current Covid-19 pandemic
no physical attendance at meetings had taken place since the last Standards
committee meeting. It was noted that meetings had resumed via online platforms
to conduct any business.
The Chair explained that Independent member Anne Mellor had
attended a meeting of the Rhuddlan Town Council and produced feedback for the
committee to discuss.
As Anne Mellor had been unable to attend the meeting the
Monitoring Officer(MO) introduced the statement provided.
Prior to the meeting I (Anne Mellor) reviewed the website
and found it to be easy to use and navigate and it provided the contact details
of the clerk. I had been sent a copy of the agenda and the meeting invitation
for the meeting on the 14th January 2021. My opinion had been that
the meeting was productive and had very good discussion and input from all
Independent Member Julia Hughes asked the MO if she could be
invited to the next Cabinet and Council meeting.
The MO confirmed that the meetings of Cabinet and Full
Council would be webcast for Public viewing. An invite to attend remotely would
only have to be issued if the agenda contained confidential Part 2 documents as
that part of the meeting was not broadcast. Members of the Standards Committee
are entitled to observe the restricted part of a meeting. If members wished to
attend a meeting that included Part 2 items, a request to Steve Price should be
Councillor Ann Davies thanked Anne Mellor for attending the
Rhuddlan Town Council meeting. The thoughts were echoed by Councillor Arwel
Roberts who stated the Town Council worked well and it was pleasing to hear the
observations of the Standards member following the meeting.
The MO stated that Standards Members attended City, Town and
Community Councils to observe the proceedings and report any findings back to
Standards committee. It was deemed a verbal report would be acceptable. If
observations from attendance raised any concerns, the committee could instruct
the MO to support and assist the council if required.
The Chair stated he had previously attended the training
provided by the MO, it had been well run and very informative.
The Chair thanked members for the discussion, it was
RESOLVED that the above
observations and discussion be noted.
To consider a
report by the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed) informing members about a consultation being conducted by the
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, (the Ombudsman) about new draft guidance
for elected members on the Code of Conduct.
Officer (MO) guided members through the report. The two versions of the
guidance had been produced for: 1- members of principal Council, Fire and
Rescue Authority and National Parks, 2- Members of Town, City and Community
The current Code of
Conduct guidance from the ombudsman had last been revised in 2016. The
Ombudsman had sought to do a refresh and consultation for its publication prior
to the local elections in 2022.
The Ombudsman had
released the documents included in the papers and asked for views from members.
The content of the revised guidance covered a number of similar aspects with no
changes made to certain elements of the current document. The Monitoring
Officer guided members through some of the changes that had been noted.
had been produced to help and guide members in maintain appropriate standards
of Code of Conduct when carrying out duties.
for members to attend training when provided had been highlighted.
explanation on the Standards Committee had been included.
introduction of interim reports that can be presented to the President of the
Adjudication Panel for Wales. From which an interim case tribunal could take
place and interim outcomes pending the outcome of the investigation and the
The Chair thanked
the MO for the briefing of the changes. He stated the use of social media had
been observed, in his opinion the dangers of social media should be emphasised
more within the report.
Julia Hughes stated
the guidance paper had been an accessible read and the use of appropriate
examples to aid understanding was a good introduction. It was pleasing to note that
the training section had been included in the guidance. The updated document
The MO offered
clarity on the role related to elected members on Town, City and Community
Councils and County Council and their conduct when they represented the
authority. In respect to school governors who was not an elected member would
not be covered under the proposed revised guidance document. If an elected
member sat on a school governing body, in that role they are seen as a
representative of the Council and the Code of Conduct would apply to them.
The MO confirmed
that the majority of complaints received are dissolved and investigated by the
Ombudsman due to a number of reasons. Within the guidance an expression of
dismay from the Ombudsman on complaints made for political purposes was made.
Confirmation that robust testing was adopted when investigating complaints and
assessing if a complaint ought to be investigated. It was compulsory for City,
Town and Community Council’s to comply with the Code of Conduct.
Lay Member Peter
Lamb raised the following points;
title on the first page should include ‘guidance’ in the title,
document referred to ‘reassurance to the public’ it was not clear what
reassurance it provided,
harm had been used on page 23 of the agenda pack, Mr Lamb questioned if it was
the most appropriate word to use,
inclusion of the monetary value of £1000 in regard to use of mobile phone. It
was suggested it might be best to leave out the monetary amount.
The MO thanked the Lay Member for his thoughts. In response to the points raised the MO confirmed he agreed with the point of including the word guidance within the title and would pass on the inclusion to the Ombudsman. In response to the other points raised the reassurance to the public was to emphasise the existence of the Code of Conduct provided comfort that a procedure was in ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To receive a report by the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed) about the provisions contained within the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, (the Act) insofar as they relate to the functions of the Committee
The Monitoring Officer
(MO) confirmed to members that the Act had now been approved by the Senedd and
had received royal ascent in January 2021. It was confirmed that a number of
the provisions within the Act had not come into effect yet. The implications
imposed on group leaders and upon the Standards Committee will not come in to
force until 5th May 2022. The
MO guided members through the reforms within the Act (previously circulated).
The Chair thanked
the MO for the informative narrative of the changes that would be introduced.
It was noted a great deal of work had been involved in the implantation of the
Act and the adoption of the reforms when they come into effect.
The MO stated the
most relevant reform to be introduced relevant to Standards committee would be
in the introduction of a duty on leaders of political groups to promote and
maintain high standards of conduct by members of their groups. A duty would be
imposed on the Standards Committee to produce an annual report to Council that
included an assessment of group leaders compliance over the previous year. This
new duty would come into force in May 2022, it was also stated guidance or
group leaders would be produced by Welsh Government.
In response to
members questions the MO expanded upon the membership of the Corporate Joint
Committee (CJC). Statutory guidance would be provided which would need regard
when working collaboratively. The Corporate Joint Committee was a new merger.
It was explained work had been undertaken with authorities to work collaboratively.
The CJC would be an independent corporate body that had certain minimum
membership requirements. The current membership proposal included the Leaders
of the 6 Local Authorities in North Wales and a representative from the
National Park. The representative from the National Park would only have a vote
in respect to matters that relate to the strategic planning function of the
committee. The MO explained the regulations of the CJC would allow to determine
if they wanted to co-opt people on to the committee with voting rights or
create sub committees with co-opted members.
Members thanked the
MO for the detailed response to questions and the detailed explanation of the
new Act. It was
members note the contents of the report.
At this juncture
(11.40 a.m.) the meeting adjourned for a 10 minute refreshment break.
reconvened at 11.50 a.m.
To consider a report by the Monitoring
Officer (copy enclosed) about
the Committee’s terms of reference.
Officer (MO) presented the report (previously circulated), following the
request to review the terms of reference from members.
The MO stated the
reference to school governors within the terms of reference was directed to
dispensations to Councillors, Co-opted members and Church and parent governor
representatives are the individuals who are co-opted onto Scrutiny committees.
It was confirmed the Law required the authority to have Church and Education
representatives who are invited to attend Scrutiny meetings when considering
matters of education. They are formally co-opted members of the authority.
The MO had compared the
terms of reference held by Denbighshire’s Standards committee to the terms held
at the other North Wales authorities and also elements of other Welsh
authorities as a point of reference.
The main functions
of the Standards committee had been replicated in other terms of reference as
they are a function of the Standards committee regulations. One difference to
note had been had been Flintshire County Council and Wrexham include the annual
Whistleblowing regime as a function of the Standards committee. It was
confirmed within DCC constitution the report was presented to Corporate
Governance and Audit committee annually. Another report noted of difference had
been a report on indemnities requests. The role currently lay with Corporate
Governance and Audit Committee.
County Council terms of reference, they included a report on the planning code
of conduct and council’s constitution in so far they relate to issues
concerning members which were to be reported to Cabinet.
In response to members
concerns the MO expanded on the following:
committee had a responsibility to report annually to County Council any
findings of breaches of the Members Code of Conduct by the Public Services
Ombudsman for Wales.
opinion of the MO it was logical for the Corporate Governance and Audit
committee to receive the whistleblowing policy. As both the MO and Chief
internal auditor attend each meeting.
informed members, attendance at meetings was very good. No reverence to the
Standard Committee had been required.
was happy to trial a pre-meeting for any training or upskilling members before
each meeting if members felt would be beneficial. The MO stated he would
contact the MO in Flintshire for guidance on what they had included in some
stated he could present a report on the member/ officer protocol and an
employee’s code of conduct for member’s reference.
reminder email could be distributed to all clerks about dispensations.
The Chair thanked
the MO for the report and comparison information, members
The MO suggest that the Standards Committee
offer to receive the Whistleblowing annual review from Corporate Governance and
The MO present reports on the Member/ Officer
protocol and the employee’s code of conduct.
The MO approach the MO in Flintshire about
An email be sent to Community Clerks
reminding them of the dispensation process.
To receive the draft annual report of the Standards Committee by the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed).
The Chair introduced
the draft report of Standards Committee to be debated and presented to the
County Council. It was explained that it had been 2 years since a report was
presented to County Council on behalf of the Committee.
The report would be
reported by the Chair to Full Council in the May County Council meeting.
The Chair noted that
within point 4.6 a slight amendment was needed as a four-month suspension not
three months as stated had been issued. The Monitoring Officer (MO) stated he
would amend as noted.
that the Chair or Vice Chair attend the North Wales Standards Forum and its
purpose. Promoting news to be shared and collaboration between authorities
Within the report
members wanted to illustrate the work the Standards Committee do and the
reasons why. Members suggested it may be beneficial to include some information
on the length of term for Lay members.
Lay Member Peter
Lamb suggested the one dispensation request that had been heard by the
Committee could be included to highlight the concern that only one had been
presented to members.
The MO suggested a
paragraph explaining the dispensation facility exits and the importance of it.
It was hoped from that members would remind members of Community Councils that
the facility was available. The MO stated he would write to clerks of the committees
to provide further information.
suggested that under 4.5 C the Code of Conduct Case book further explanation of
the role of Standards Committee be made. The MO agreed this could be expanded.
A section on the
forward working of the Standards and the implications of the new Act be added
along with a section that the Standards Committee will have an overview on the
training schedule for the members post the election 2022.
The MO stated he
would note the comments from members and amend the draft report as suggested
and send to the Chair and members.
members comment on the Draft Standards Committee report and agree the Chair to
present the report at the County Council meeting.
To consider the Standards Committee Forward Work Programme (copy attached).
The Monitoring Officer (MO) introduced the
Standards Committee Forward Work Programme (previously circulated).
The MO suggested the following reports be
included on the June meeting FWP
Code of Conduct for understanding
It was also suggested that a report be
included on training plan and requirements post the 2022 election be included.
Julia Hughes requested a discussion on
attendance at meetings be included on the FWP. To allow members to discuss
expectations and if a more formal list of attendance was needed. The MO suggested a report with a list of the
Community Councils meeting details and a County Council calendar of meetings
for discussion. A discussion on a more structured approach to attending meeting
could be included on the FWP for June 2021.
RESOLVED that subject to
the above, the Standards Committee’s forward work programme be approved.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Standards Committee is scheduled for 11 June 2021 at 10.00 a.m.
The next meeting of the Standards Committee
was scheduled for Friday 11th June 2021.
RESOLVED that under Section 100A 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 would involve the likely disclosure of
exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 12 and 13 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A
of the Act.
CODE OF CONDUCT - PART 3 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 2000
To consider a confidential report by the Monitoring Officer (copy
enclosed) providing an overview of complaints against members lodged with the Public
Services Ombudsman for
Penlington declared a personal interest in this agenda item due to historical
Davies an observer at the meeting declared a prejudicial interest and left the
The Monitoring Officer (MO) presented the
confidential report (previously circulated) to provide Members with an overview
of complaints lodged with the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales since 1st
The MO reported on
the ongoing complaints submitted, giving outline details of the nature of the
complaints made and the actions taken by the Public Services Ombudsman for
Wales. It was stated at present 4 complaints had ongoing investigations.
The MO stated that
he could expand on the information including timescales provided in the report
to help members illustrate any themes from complaints received.
RESOLVED that the Standards Committee notes the
contents of the report.
The meeting concluded at 13:00 p.m