Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Ruthin and by video conference
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
Town and Community Council Member, Councillor
Gordon Hughes declared a personal interest in agenda item 12, Code of Conduct –
Part 3 Local Government Act 2000, in respect of one of the complaints lodged
with the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
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.
The Chair raised the issue regarding the
posting of the Standards Committee agenda and reports pack leading to them
being received late by many Committee Members, and gave reassurance that the
Committee Administration Team were aware of this.
To receive the minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 8 September 2023 (copy enclosed).
The minutes of the Standards Committee
meeting held on the 8 September were submitted.
Page 10 – Item 6: Attendance at Meetings –
to replace ‘directly’ to ‘directed’.
Page 10 – item 6: Attendance at Meetings
in the RESOLVED- to amend ‘anonymous observational feedback from the
Standards Committee be submitted to all Town/City/Community Councils per
quarter, via email/letter’ to ‘anonymous observational feedback from the
Monitoring Officer be submitted to all Town/City/Community Councils per
quarter, via email/letter’.
Matters arising –
Page 8 – Item 4: Minutes (Matters Arising)
– Annual online meeting with Town, City and Community Councils. A date for the
meeting had not yet been identified. A consideration being considered was the
Council’s need to engage with Town, City and Community Councils regarding a
wide range of matters and decisions were ongoing to determine if this would be
incorporated into the annual meeting. The Monitoring Officer was hoping to
receive clarity on this within the coming weeks and a potential date would be
circulated to Members.
Page 11 – Item 8: National Standards Forum
– The Chair asked the Committee if they had received the latest minutes from
the meeting on 30 June 2023. The monitoring Officer informed the Committee that
he would circulate the minutes following the meeting.
Page 12 – Item 8: National Standards Forum
– A response from the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) had been
received and circulated to all Members.
Page 13 – Item 9: Group Leaders Duty –
Statutory and Non Statutory Guidance for Principal Councils in Wales – The
Deputy Monitoring Officer would provide a report/feedback in the March 2024
Standards Committee meeting and this would be noted on the Forward Work
Page 14 – Item 9: Group Leaders Duty –
Statutory and Non Statutory Guidance for Principal Councils in Wales – The
Monitoring Officer would seek clarity regarding the sharing of the Standards
Committee Annual Report with the PSOW and Town/City and Community Councils.
Page 14 – Item 10: Corporate Joint
Committee – The Monitoring Officer attended the Corporate Joint Committee
meeting. The Corporate Joint Committee needed to have their own Standards
Committee and it was hoped that nominations could be sought from existing
Standards Committee Members to sit on a Corporate Joint Committee Standards
Committee. The regulations did not allow for the above and therefore the
current process for recruiting Members for Committees would apply. The
Monitoring Officer in Gwynedd County Council presented a report to the
Corporate Joint Committee explaining the recruitment process and it was
approved. The Chair requested that the report be circulated to all Members.
Page 15 – Item 12: Standards Committee
Forward Work Programme – Ethical Liaison Group Meeting - A meeting was
scheduled for the 18 December 2023, the agenda for the meeting would be
circulated to all Members following a meeting with Group Leaders on the 18
Page 15 – Item 12: Standard Forward Work
Programme – The Deputy Monitoring Officer agreed to consult with the Monitoring
Officer on an appropriate date for the item on the Review of the size and
composition of the Standards Committee. The Monitoring Officer stated that this
item can be brought to the March meeting of the Committee, and this will be
added to the Forward Work Programme.
subject to the above, the minutes of the meeting held on the 8 September 2023
be received and approved as a correct record of the proceedings.
To consider a report by the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed) on the published ‘Our Findings’ page on the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales website.
Cartwright: Trainee Solicitor presented the Public Services Ombudsman For Wales
(PSOW): Our Findings report to Members.
report covered the period from 3 August – 24 November 2023. The ‘Our Findings’
section of the Ombudsman’s website contained a summary of those cases involving
Code of Conduct complaints that had been investigated by the Ombudsman.
received a complaint that a Member of Conwy County Council had breached its
Code of Conduct by participating and voting in a virtual Council meeting whilst
appearing to be driving, which would have the potential to bring the Council
into disrepute. Given that there was only evidence of a single event, the
Ombudsman found that this incident was not indicative of repeated behaviour,
and despite the Member being in breach of the Code of Conduct, found that it
would not be in the public interest to take further action under s69(4)(b)
Local Government Act 2000.
The Chair questioned if the complaint
referring to a Member of Conwy County Council joining a hybrid meeting whilst
driving should be fed back to all Members to remind them of the protocol in
place within Denbighshire County Council, and questioned if the Policy in
Denbighshire needed any amendments considering the complaint.
Officer explained to the Committee that a policy was in place regarding joining
hybrid meetings. The information concerning the complaint within the report
could be sent to group leaders to inform their groups and encourage good
to a radio article highlighting that Members who are joining hybrid meetings
could be doing other things at that time as their camera’s do not remain on for
the entirety of the meeting.
Monitoring Officer explained that the Hybrid Meeting Protocol covered this
concern. When Members joined meetings, they were asked to keep their camera’s
on for the duration of the meeting, only having their camera off if there was a
monitoring Officer stated that the hybrid policy did not currently refer
specifically to joining meetings within a vehicle and this would be included in
if Members needed to attend meetings in person in order to
be able to take part in any vote. The
Monitoring Officer explained that members can vote if they join a meeting
remotely or attend in person. There were many ways in which voting within
meetings were conducted including the electronic system within the Chamber and
roll call. There were ongoing tests being undertaken on Zoom polls.
and the Monitoring Officer thanked the Trainee Solicitor for their report and
for attending the meeting.
discussion it was –
RESOLVED: that -
Leaders be advised of the contents of the report and remind all members of
amendment to the Hybrid Meeting Protocol Policy to include joining meeting in vehicles
contents of the report be noted.
ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS
To note the attendance by members of the Standards Committee at County, Town and Community Council and to receive their reports.
reported on their attendance at meeting as follows –
Member Samuel Jones reported on a meeting of Llanfair DC Community Council held
at 7.30pm on Monday 30 October 2023.
Declarations of interest were sought at the beginning of the meeting.
The Chair made a personal declaration of interest although she did not
specifically express which agenda item it was relating to, it appeared to be
related to an item reviewing correspondence. As it was only a review of
correspondence, and no decision was being made, it appeared that the member
acted in accordance with her declaration. The Chair and Clerk were very
efficient in progressing items, whilst giving appropriate discussion time for
each. Overall, the meeting was conducted professionally, and debate was
constructive. The Clerk was easy to contact and was responsive to messages.
Member Peter Lamb reported on a meeting of Dyserth
Community Council held at 7pm on 9 October 2023. Declarations of interests were
sought at the beginning of the meeting. The Clerk of the meeting was very
organised, and information was clearly presented on a video screen. The
Committee were friendly and cordial with each other and were respectful of the
Chair. The Clerk was confused as to the role of the Standards Committee,
thinking that it had a broader scope over Denbighshire County Council (DCC).
Overall, the meeting ran smoothly, and the Clerk was easy to contact and
supplied the agenda and minutes of the previous meeting.
Member Peter Lamb reported on a meeting of the Ruthin Community Council held at
7pm on 20 November 2023. Declarations of
interests were sought at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting was hybrid
and worked well with all participants involved following the discussion. The
public seats were behind the Committee, and this made it difficult to hear at
times. Committees should be reminded that the public should be able to hear the
discussions clearly. Overall, the meeting was well orchestrated and contact
with the Clerk was straightforward and responsive.
reported on a meeting of the Cynwyd Community Council held at 7.30pm on the 8
November 2023. Declarations of interest were sought at the beginning of the
meeting. The Clerk of the meeting was relatively new to the Council and was
learning the role as they had not been a Clerk previously. There had been long
periods when the Council had no Clerk in post, and times when a previous Clerk
was absent due to sickness. The meeting was conducted bilingually, and the
agenda was bilingual. Three members of the public participated throughout the
meeting on various agenda items. Equipment for hybrid meetings was discussed
however, due to the costs it was agreed that it was not a high priority
currently for the Council. The Council were struggling to fill vacant
Councillor and Clerk posts and due to this it appeared that papers and
documents had not been circulated to all Members.
reported on a meeting of Cyffylliog Community Council
held at 7pm on the 9 November 2023. Prior to the meeting commencing it was made
clear that Members would need to be prompted to declare any declarations of
interests as Councillors did not have an understanding of
declaring interests. The agenda consisted of 18 items and all of them were
covered within the meeting. A discussion on One Voice Wale training courses
took place with some confusion over compulsory and voluntary courses and how
many they would need to attend.
Members discussed the discrepancy between the workings of Clerks within Community Councils and questioned if training should be offered to ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider any dispensation requests received from Town/City/Community Councils or at county level.
of dispensation requests from Town/City/Community Councils and at County level was
a standing item on the agenda.
reiterated their concerns that no dispensation requests had been received.
RESOLVED: that the
position be noted.
To consider the Standards Committee Annual report from the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed).
A report was submitted by the Deputy Monitoring
Officer (previously circulated) presenting the draft Standards Committee Annual
Report for consideration prior to its submission to full Council. The report
detailed the Committee’s work during the 2023 calendar year.
It was a
requirement that an Annual Report from Standards Committee was presented to
Full Council on the work of the Committee each year, and its findings and
observations to all Council Members as part of the Committee’s drive to
increase standards of ethical behaviour and compliance with the Members Code of
The Monitoring Officer guided members
through the content of the report and during debate the following amendments
were agreed by the Committee –
requested a paragraph was included at the start of the report reflecting the
efforts of the Standards Committee in addressing the standards of public life
and the encouragement of good behaviour within the Council. The Monitoring
officer would add this including noting Code and Compliance and Diversity,
Equality and Democracy.
requested it be made clear and concise the role of the Standards Committee,
clarifying that they were separate from the Council. The Monitoring Officer
explained that a paragraph explaining this would be included within the generic
feedback given to Town, City and Community Councils.
requested an amendment to the recommendation of the report to Council as
follows – ‘Members note the contents of the report and endorse the work of the
Standards Committee in promoting and encouraging high standards of conduct in
– Members requested that reference be made to the conduct at meetings in which
Standards Committee Members observed, to ensure that Town, City and Community
Council meetings being observed were aware of their role in observing only at
that time, not to participate.
– requested an amendment stating the Chair of Standards Committee is to be an
– PSOW complaint statistics to be inserted into the report prior to Full
– Response to PSOW letter – feedback to include the concerns of the Standards
Committee regarding the lack of complaints being investigated with statistics
including the number complaints received compared to the number of complaints
investigated further and the need for staff to be aware that great
detail is needed in order for the complaint to be considered/ carried
– to be reworded and renumbered (Observation of meetings).
– Standards Committee concerns of the lack of dispensation requests and asked
for work to be prepared to encourage greater application.
– to add feedback to Councillors if appropriate and include the Denbighshire
County Council link to policies within the report.
Standards Forum – list action points to come out of the recent minutes of the
National Standards Forum to be discussed and approved by the Chair and
The Monitoring Officer informed Members
that a revised draft of the Standards Committee Annual Report would be
circulated to all Members for comments following the Group Leaders meeting on
the 18 December 2023.
Members emphasized the importance of
the report and therefore, due to the current volume of agenda items on the Full
Council Forward Work Programme it was agreed that the report be taken to the
Full Council meeting in February 2024.
subject to the above, the Annual Standards Committee draft report be received
At this juncture in the meeting the
Committee adjourned for comfort break.
The Committee resumed business at
CHAIR'S TRAINING EVENT
To receive a verbal update on the Chair’s Training Event held on 24 November 2023.
Monitoring Officer gave a verbal update to Members on the Chair’s Training
had been received from attendees of the training, via feedback forms. The
feedback form responses were verbally reported to the Committee covering topics
such as how useful the training was and whether they would be interested in
attending another training session covering different topics in the future.
commented on the high quality of the training however, noted that the
attendance was disappointing. There were many opportunities for attendees to
participate in the training and Members welcomed further training in the
Reference was made to the helpful tips
given by the trainer on the training course regarding the role of Chair in
meetings and they were briefly reported to the Committee by the Chair.
requested that the information leaflet on ‘Chairing Meetings’ from the training
session be circulated internally with Chairs of Committees within the Council.
The Monitoring Offer agreed to seek approval from the external trainer to
obtain consent before the information was shared.
RESOLVED: that –
Chairing Meetings Leaflet is circulated following receiving consent from the
trainer and –
Chair’s Training Event be received and noted.
To consider the Standards Committee Forward Work Programme (copy attached).
Standards Committee Forward Work Programme was presented for consideration and
Members noted the following –
were 3 Report Items scheduled for the Standards Committees March meeting –
Standards Forum Update
Non-Statutory Guidance for Principal Councils in Wales relevant to the Standards
the Ethical Liaison Group meeting.
Items agreed to be added to the Forward Work Programme during the
meeting were –
of Standards Committee Recruitment Panel Compilation update.
of Statutory Guidance Clarification relating to Standards Committee, Part 2:Sections 5,6 and 7 together with Part 4 (The Schedule,
Section 6 and Agenda and reports, Section 15.80 (background papers), Chairing
Meetings, Section 15.138 onwards).
of the size and composition of the Standards Committee.
subject to the above, the Standards Committee Forward Work Programme be agreed.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Standards Committee is scheduled for 10am, Friday 1 March 2024.
that the Standards Committee’s next meeting had been scheduled for 10am, Friday
1 March 2024.
EXCLUSION FROM PRESS AND PUBLIC
RESOLVED that under Section 100A of the Local
Government Act 1972, the Press and Public be excluded from the meeting for the
following items of business on the grounds that it involved the likely
disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 12 and 13 of Part 4
of Schedule 12 A of the Local Government Act 1972.
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
Monitoring Officer submitted a confidential report (previously circulated)
providing an overview of complaints against members lodged with the Public
Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) since 1 April 2022.
were no live complaints reported as under investigation at present.
Monitoring Officer provided a summary of the two complaints lodged, which had
not been investigated, together with the reasons, therefore. Given
the change in reporting arrangements it was noted there may be complaints
lodged with the PSOW which would not be known until a decision had been made as
to whether or not the complaint would be investigated.
RESOLVED: that the
report be received and noted.
At the close of the meeting the Chair thanked members for their
attendance and contributions and also conveyed her
thanks to the support staff.