MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
To receive the minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 22 July 2022 (copy attached).
The minutes of the Standards Committee held on 22 July 2022 were submitted.
Page 7 – Present – to replace ‘a’ with ‘and’ to read “Peter Lamb and Councillor Gordon Hughes”
Page 10, second paragraph – Item 8: Ethics and Standards Training – to replace ‘Denbighshire’s’ with ‘Denbighshire’
Page 10, second to last paragraph – Item 8: Ethics and Standards Training – to replace ‘meetings’ with ‘training session’
Page 11, Item 9: Welsh Government Guidance – Duty of Group Leaders to Promote Ethical Behaviour, first sentence – to replace ‘circulate’ with ‘circulated’
Page 14, Item 13: Date of Next Meeting – to replace ‘march’ with ‘March’. It was noted that the timetable for future meetings was 10am on Fridays, and that the rescheduling of the current meeting for 11.30 am was contrary to that timetable. However, that had been due to the limited availability of dates and key officers.
Matters Arising –
Page 8 – Item 6: Minutes (Matters Arising) – Process for recruiting independent members of the Standards Committee – the Standards Committee (Wales) Regulations 2001 allowed for up to nine members with Denbighshire’s constitution currently stipulating seven members, and the potential to review that position had been highlighted. There had been no further discussions on the matter since then and it was agreed that the item be added to the forward work programme for future consideration. It was accepted that there would be budget implications associated with any increase in members which would be a decision for full Council to make.
Page 8 – Item 6: Minutes (Matters Arising) (Page 11, Item 8) – there had been some discussion around the inclusion of independent members on the Recruitment Panels for independent members, which happened in other local authorities but not in Denbighshire. Following that discussion, the Chair had been involved in the latest interview process as an observer. There were regulations governing Standard Committee member recruitment but varying practices in different local authorities across Wales and a report back on that topic had been included on the forward work programme for December. Councillor Hugh Irving advised that he had been on the latest Recruitment Panel but had been unable to attend both sessions. It was agreed that the protocol to be enacted in those circumstances also be included as part of the report back on the composition of the recruitment panel.
Page 10 – Item 8: Ethics and Standards Training, fifth paragraph – Code of Conduct training had been provided for elected members following May’s local government elections with a further session scheduled for 10am on 20 December for those members who had not yet attended and provided an opportunity for Standards Committee members to attend. Three sessions had been conducted for Town, City, and Community Councils which had not been particularly well attended due to an administrative problem. Therefore, an online session would be offered before Christmas with face to face sessions planned in the new year in both the North and South of the county. The Deputy Monitoring Officer agreed to circulate the dates to Committee members via email. The Chair had been disappointed to note the communication issue and limited attendance and stressed the importance of additional sessions to ensure all members were given opportunities to attend the training as early as possible in the new Council term to develop an understanding of the requirements and expectations at the outset. It was a requirement that every member attended a Code of Conduct training session at least once each Council term, regardless of whether they were returning members. A further update on member training had been included in the forward work programme for December.
Page 11, Item 9: Welsh Government Guidance – Duty of Group Leaders to promote ethical behaviour – reference was made to the proposal to create an Ethical Liaison Group to be supported by the Monitoring Officer and a member of the Standards Committee (e.g. Chair or Vice-Chair). The Chair felt that both the Chair and Vice-Chair should be involved. The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that a report had been scheduled for the December meeting and members could agree an approach at that time. She had no update at present on the Monitoring Officer’s initial meeting with the Group Leaders scheduled on 29 July. The Chair was a member of the Standards Committee with another local authority and provided some templates which had been co-produced with Group Leaders in that authority which could be used as a starting point to further develop with Denbighshire’s Group Leaders. She emphasised the need for the protocol to be developed jointly with Group Leaders in order for it to work for both sides. The Committee agreed that the Chair and Deputy Monitoring Officer work together on a suggested template for that purpose.
Page 12, Item 10: National Standards Forum – The Deputy Monitoring Officer reported that a draft terms of reference had been produced and circulated to all Monitoring Officers in Wales and work was progressing in that regard. The Chair asked that regular updates on progression with the establishment of the National Standards Forum be included in the forward work programme.
Page 14, Item 14: Code of Conduct – Part 3 Local Government Act 2000 – the Committee had noted the change in the way the Ombudsman dealt with the notification of complaints and asked the Monitoring Officer to provide feedback to the Ombudsman that receiving a copy of the initial complaint was of value. The Deputy Monitoring Officer was not aware that feedback had been given and confirmed that she would take that action forward on behalf of the Committee.
Any other matters arising had been covered in the agenda items for the meeting.
RESOLVED that, subject to the above, the minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2022 be received and approved as a correct record.