NOTICE OF MOTION
Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Rachel Flynn for consideration by Full Council (copy attached).
Councillor Rachel Flynn put forward the Notice of Motion for consideration by Full Council –
Councillor Flynn stated that the Notice of Motion was put forward on behalf of the Womens Cross Party Group of the Women in Politics Group.
“We ask that Denbighshire County council take a more decisive stance with its grievance policy and procedure. In light of the updated diversity and equalities act, we ask that the council forms a new internal procedure to ensure the behaviour of councillors can be held to account.
We also ask that the council reviews it policies and procedure for reviewing grievances concerning bulling and harassment, involving Councillors, Officers, and others whether it be virtually, physically or on social media.’
1. That the Democratic Services Committee look at the current grievance process to ensure it is fit for purpose.
2. That the council create a diversity and ethics working group to examine how the council protects and promotes diversity and good ethics in Wales, including awareness of how women are still being treated unequally and the effects of misogyny and sexual discrimination on women.
3. That we are more forthright as a council in tackling unacceptable behaviour in any Community, Town or County Council forum.”
Councillor Rachel Flynn PROPOSED the Notice of Motion, SECONDED by Councillor Barry Mellor.
The Leader, Councillor Hugh Evans responded by thanking Councillor Flynn for bringing forward the Notice of Motion. As Lead Member for Equality and Leader of the Council he was committed the Council continually strived to place equality at the heart of all work carried out. The Council was committed to diversity and made a declaration in September 2021 to commit to become a diverse council and the Democratic Services Committee would, later this week, consider a draft action plan related to some of the barriers to participate in local democracy. In terms of disputes between members, a new legal duty on Group Leaders would take effect after the May elections to promote and maintain high standards of conduct amongst their Groups.
In addition, the recent independent Penn Review of ethical framework in Wales, had reported to the Wales Government and had made recommendations regarding the use of ambit of local resolution processes. The Government’s response to the Review was awaited, and details of any proposals to change guidance and/or legislation as a result.
Councillor Hugh Evans responded to the recommendations contained within the Notice of Motion as follows -
1. This recommendation refers to the local resolution process used to try and resolve issues between members of the County Council on an informal basis without the need to involve the Ombudsman. Councillor Evans agreed there should be a review of the process. Councillor Evans PROPOSED that a Working Group of members be established to undertake a review of work with the Standards Committee and the Monitoring Officer to develop a suitable process in the context of the new duty to which he referred, and any changes introduced as a result of the Penn Review.
2. The Council did, at one time, have an Equalities Group which was removed as part of an agenda to mainstream equalities issues. However, there is ongoing work being done by the Business Improvement and Modernisation team to consider the establishment of an Equalities Group and Councillor Evans proposed that the work should continue and take into account any overlap between equalities issues and the ethical framework.
3. The Council would provide support, training and guidance to Town and Community Councils but it had no direct role in resolving disputes within those Councils other than through the Ombudsman and Standards Committee. As members, all should be mindful of their responsibilities to treat each other with respect and consideration and that would all challenge unacceptable behaviour when seen.
The review of the local resolution process would be the appropriate mechanism to consider what changes would be needed to be made in the context of the new duty on Group Leaders and the Penn Review.
Councillor Hugh Evans PROPOSED the following amendments to the recommendations as follows –
Recommendation 1 - That a Group of members be established to work with the Monitoring Officer and the Standards Committee to review the current local resolution process and make recommendations in respect of any changes to be adopted.
Recommendation 2 – That Officers work to establish proposals for an Equalities and Diversity Group to include an appropriate terms of reference
Recommendation 3 – That the Council works with the Town and Community Councils to provide support and assistance within the context of the current ethical framework and any changes made as a result of the Penn Review.
Councillor Mark Young SECONDED the amendments put forward by Councillor Hugh Evans.
A vote took place and a majority of members approved the amendments with one vote against the amendment.
The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services clarified that as the amendment had been carried, it was now the substantive Notice of Motion and a vote would be taken on the substantive Notice of Motion.
A vote took place and a majority of members approved the substantive Notice of Motion with one vote against (Councillor Gwyneth Kensler).
(1) a Group of members be established to work with the Monitoring Officer and the Standards Committee to review the current local resolution process and make recommendations in respect of any changes to be adopted.
(2) Officers work to establish proposals for an Equalities and Diversity Group to include an appropriate terms of reference
(3) the Council works with the Town and Community Councils to provide support and assistance within the context of the current ethical framework and any changes made as a result of the Penn Review.