Agenda and minutes

Standards and Conduct Committee
Friday, 5th April, 2013 2.00 pm

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds

Contact: Amy Kelly  Senior Corporate Governance Officer

Items
No. Item

30.

Appeals against refusal of inspection of documents

To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 19 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an appeal the press and public will be excluded).

 

(*In accordance with Procedure Rule 19, written notice of an appeal must be received by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting)

Minutes:

There were no appeals against refusal of inspection of documents in accordance with Procedure Rule 19 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules.

 

31.

Exempt Information - Possible exclusion of the press and public

1.  To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.

 

2.  To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.

 

3.  If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-

 

RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:-

Minutes:

There were no resolutions to exclude the press and public.

 

32.

Late items

To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.  

 

(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes.)

Minutes:

There were no late items submitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.

 

33.

Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any disclosable pecuniary interests for the purposes of Section 31 of the Localism Act 2011 and paragraphs 13-16 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.

 

34.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence from the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Colin Campbell and Councillor Kamila Maqsood.

 

35.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To approve the minutes of the Standards and Conduct Committee meeting held on 11th January 2013.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Friday 11th January 2013 were approved as a correct record.

 

36.

Councillors acting for developers - Recent national press coverage pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To receive a report of the City Solicitor drawing the Committee’s attention to recent publicity regarding the alleged practice of Councillors acting for developers for a fee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The City Solicitor submitted a report drawing the Committee’s attention to recent national publicity regarding the alleged practice of Councillors acting for developers for a fee.  The Committee received assurances that no such allegations had been made against Leeds City Councillors, and that no Leeds City Councillors currently provide planning consultancy services within the Leeds City Council area according to their register of interests.

 

Members of the Standards and Conduct Committee discussed what action, if any, could be taken against former Councillors who used knowledge they had gained whilst they were a Member as part of a consultancy service.  The City Solicitor advised that, depending upon the circumstances, a former Councillor may well remain obligated not to disclose any confidential information they received in their capacity as a Councillor under civil law, and if they broke a duty of confidence, the Council may be able to take legal action against them.

 

RESOLVED - Members of the Standards and Conduct Committee resolved to note the report, and to request that officers remind Members of their on-going duty of confidence as part of the training provided to Members.

 

37.

Annual Report of the Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To receive an annual report from the Monitoring Officer regarding whether the arrangements set out in the Monitoring Officer Protocol have been complied with, and including any proposals for amendment.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The City Solicitor (and Monitoring Officer) submitted a report regarding whether the arrangements set out in the Monitoring Officer Protocol have been complied with, and including any proposals for amendment to the Protocol itself.  The City Solicitor assured the Committee that she had complied with her legal duties through the year, and had no issues to report.

 

Members of the Standards and Conduct Committee asked whether budgetary savings had been made as a result of the reduction in the number of complaints made against Leeds City Councillors and Parish and Town Councillors in the Leeds area.  The Deputy Monitoring Officer clarified that the budget previously allocated for external standards investigations has now been removed. 

 

Members also discussed the issue of dispensations and whether dual-hatted Members of certain authorities need to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest in meetings.  The Monitoring Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer clarified that according to the latest correspondence received from Mr Brandon Lewis MP, Members would need to declare positions in other authorities in relation to which they receive a taxable income and that discussions were on-going with the other West Yorkshire Authorities to ensure that consistent advice was being provided.  In the meantime the Monitoring Officer suggested that the safest course of action would be for Members to both register offices from which they received payment that is taxable, and also to seek a dispensation to enable participation in matters relating to those interests.

 

RESOLVED – Members of the Standards and Conduct Committee noted the assurances and performance information provided in the report, and approved the proposed amendments to the Monitoring Officer Protocol.

 

38.

Annual Report of the Standards and Conduct Committee pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To receive a report of the City Solicitor presenting an annual report of the Standards and Conduct Committee for approval and referral to full Council.

Minutes:

The City Solicitor presented an annual report of the Standards and Conduct Committee for approval and referral to full Council.

 

Members of the Standards and Conduct Committee commented that aspects of the new standards regime had been addressed during the municipal year, particularly the implementation of the new Code of Conduct for Members ahead of many other authorities and the introduction of a more proportionate complaints handling procedure.  Members of the Committee asked to place on record their thanks to officers who had supported the transition to the new arrangements.

 

RESOLVED – Members of the Standards and Conduct Committee noted the contents of the annual report and the intention to refer the report to full Council.