Agenda and minutes

Standards and Conduct Committee
Friday, 29th November, 2013 1.30 pm

Venue: Civic Hall

Contact: Phil Garnett  Governance Officer

Items
No. Item

9.

Appeals against refusal of inspection of documents

To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 15.2 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 15.2, 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 the approval of inspection of documents.

10.

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 public.

11.

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.

12.

Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary and Other Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any disclosable pecuniary interests for the purposes of Section 31 of the Localism Act 2011 and paragraphs 13-18 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.  Also to declare any other significant interests which the Member wishes to declare in the public interest, in accordance with paragraphs 19-20 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

13.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence from the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor J Harper. Councillor J Hardy was in attendance as substitute.

14.

Minutes 18th June 2013 pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 18th June 2013.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18th June 2013 were confirmed as a correct record.

15.

Matters Arising

Minutes:

Minute No. 8 – Update on recent Standards Issues

 

The Head of Governance Services confirmed that a letter had been sent to all Councillors which set out the Independent Persons role and contact details.

16.

Openness and Transparency on Personal Interests: A Guide for Councillors pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To receive a report of the City Solicitor which considers the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Leeds City Council in light of guidance released by DCLG in September 2013 and commentary available in relation to the same.

Minutes:

The City Solicitor submitted a report which considered the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Leeds City Council in light of guidance released by DCLG in September 2013 and commentary available in relation to the same.

 

Members discussed guidance issued by the Secretary of State in relation to registration of trade union membership on Members’ Registers of Interests. Members considered that being a Member of a trade union was no different to being a member of other organisations, such as the Institute of Directors or a local trades federation, and therefore, as the guidance was not statutory, the authority should not make it a mandatory requirement to register trades union membership.  Further Members noted that the arrangements in Leeds do provide for such registrations to be made if Members wished to

 

Members also considered DCLG guidance relating to Members participation at budget meetings and whether, in light of the guidance, further dispensations would need to be sought.  Members were satisfied that the guidance, which states that “Any payment of, or liability to pay, council tax does not create a disclosable pecuniary interest” provides sufficient comfort that no further dispensations on this matter are required.

 

The Committee agreed that Whips and Parish Councillors should be informed that a dispensation is no longer required to participate in setting the Council’s budget.

 

RESOLVED – The Committee resolved to:

 

(a)  Agree that no amendments be made to the Members’ Code of Conduct in relation to disclosing membership of trade unions;

(b)  Agree that Members should not seek a dispensations in relation to setting council tax in future years; and

(c)  Ask the Head of Governance Services to Whips and Parish Clerks informing them that that a dispensation is no longer required to participate in setting the Council’s budget or the setting of a precept.

17.

Update Report pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To receive a report of the City Solicitor which presents the Committee with a summary of the complaints submitted to Leeds City Council regarding potential breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct over the past municipal year.  This includes complaints against Leeds City Councillors and about Parish and Town Councillors in the Leeds area.

Minutes:

The City Solicitor submitted a report which presented the Committee with a summary of the complaints submitted to the Council regarding potential breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct over the past municipal year. This included complaints against councillors and Parish and Town Councillors in the Leeds area.

 

It was confirmed that no complaints received had proceeded beyound past stage 1.

 

The Head of Governance Service summarised the nature of the complaints that had been received and the reasoning for not progressing past stage 1.

 

RESOLVED – The Committee resolved to note the information set out in the report.

 

18.

Committee on Standards in Public Life: Annual Report 2012-13 pdf icon PDF 157 KB

To receive a report of the City Solicitor which presents the Standards and Conduct Committee with the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CPSL) annual report for 2012/13.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

 

The City Solicitor submitted a report which presented the Committee with the Committee on standards in Public Life (CSPL) annual report for 2012/13.

 

Members discussed the conclusions of the CSPL relating to Local Government, particularly the view of the CSPL that sanctions available to local authorities if a Member is found in breach of the Council’s Members Code of Conduct might be too limited.  Members were of the view that Censure provided a powerful sanction and that when used in conjunction with internal group discipline arrangements, provided for arrangements that are proportionate.

 

Members discussed the arrangements for dealing with potential complaints concerning independent members. The Head of Governance Services provided assurance that existing complaints handling system is structured to enable those complaints to be dealt with.

 

Generally Members agreed that they were satisfied with the disciplinary procedures in Leeds and wished to convey this feeling to the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

 

RESOLVED – The Committee resolved to:

 

(a)  Note the information set out within the submitted report; and

(b)  Request that the Chair write to the Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life conveying the views expressed by the committee.