Agenda and draft minutes

Standards and Conduct Committee
Friday, 8th March, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds

Contact: Andy Hodson  Head of Governance & Scrutiny Support

Items
No. Item

1.

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.

 

 

2.

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 exempt items.

 

 

3.

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.

 

 

4.

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:

There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.

 

 

5.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence from the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor E Tunnicliffe, and Councillor G Harper was in attendance as substitute.

 

 

6.

Minutes - 9 March 2018 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To receive and approve the draft minutes of the meeting held on 9th March 2018.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held 9th March 2018 were approved as a correct record.

 

 

7.

Local Government Ethical Standards; A Review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life - Implications for Leeds pdf icon PDF 322 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Governance and Scrutiny Support providing a commentary on the recent Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) report into Ethical Standards in Local Government. The report considers matters raised in the CSPL report and asks the Standards and Conduct Committee to consider amendments to the existing ethical framework arrangements operating at Leeds City Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Governance and Scrutiny Support submitted a report that provided a commentary on the recent Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) report into Ethical Standards in Local Government. The report considered matters raised in the CSPL report and asked the Standards and Conduct Committee to consider amendments to the existing ethical framework arrangements operating at Leeds City Council.

 

The Head of Governance and Scrutiny Support introduced the report, providing an update on Leeds’ contribution to the national assessment conducted by the CSPL, and highlighted the key proposed changes in line with best practice as set out in the report.

 

Members were advised that 26 recommendations have been made by the CSPL to the Government (and others), which will require approval prior to any implementation, and that consultation is anticipated by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with a formal response due by the summer.

 

Members’ attention was also drawn to 15 areas of Best Practice aimed at Local Authorities and against which CSPL will be further benchmarking local authorities in 2020.

 

Members discussed a number of matters, including:

 

·  CSPL recognition of some practices already implemented in Leeds, such as the Annual Report to Full Council, and the recommended financial threshold for Gifts and Hospitality that is now contained in the CSPL best practice document.

·  The importance of any amendments to Section 27 (2) of the Localism Act 2011 making clear the circumstances where a Member will be construed to be acting, or giving the impression they are acting, in an official capacity and that such a definition should make a clear distinction between activities in a Members private or political life where the Code of Conduct should not apply.

·  The Committee was advised that details of gifts and hospitality received by Members were currently made available on their individual Register of Interests on the Council’s website. However, the CSPL recommend that a separate publication containing details of all Members’ gifts and hospitality should be collated and published in one place on a quarterly basis. Members were supportive of a document being published on a quarterly basis.

·  Members were supportive of amendments put forward by the Scrutiny Board Resources and Strategy and proposed by the Monitoring Officer to the social media guidance at Appendix 5. A Member also cautioned about the possible perception of Members endorsing other social media users’ comments. 

 

The Head of Governance and Scrutiny Support confirmed that the observations of the Committee and the amended Social Media Guidance will be communicated to Group Whips. The Parish Council Members present welcomed the idea of a single Members’ Code of Conduct for Parish Councils, in line with the Leeds City Council Members’ Code of Conduct. The Committee was informed that a Members’ Code of Conduct suitable for use across all Councils is currently being developed by the Local Government Association (LGA).

 

RESOLVED –

 

a)  That the contents of the report be noted;

b)  That the Committee recommend to General Purpose Committee that the Member’s Code  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Annual Report of the Monitoring Officer to the Standards and Conduct Committee pdf icon PDF 247 KB

To consider the report of the City Solicitor presenting the work carried out by the Monitoring Officer and her staff to support the committee throughout the year.  The report also demonstrates the ways in which the Authority has fulfilled its statutory duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct.

Minutes:

The City Solicitor submitted a report that presented the work carried out by the Monitoring Officer and her staff to support the Committee throughout the year. The report also demonstrated the ways in which the Authority has fulfilled its statutory duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct.

 

The Head of Governance and Scrutiny Support introduced the report, highlighting the lower number of complaints for 2018/19 than previous years.

Members were also informed of a request following publication of the report, for a Members’ home address to be withheld the public. The Monitoring Officer had granted the permission to withhold this information on the grounds of intimidation.

 

RESOLVED – That the contents of the report be noted.

 

 

9.

Annual Report of the Committee to Full Council pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To consider the report of the City Solicitor presenting to the committee an annual report relating to matters within the committee’s terms of reference and ask Members to refer the report to full Council for consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The City Solicitor submitted a report that presented to the Committee an annual report relating to matters within the Committee’s terms of reference and asked Members to refer the report to full Council for consideration.

 

The Head of Governance and Scrutiny Support introduced the report, advising Members that the report would be amended to reflect the additional permission to withhold details of a Members’ address, as described during consideration of the previous item.

 

RESOLVED –

 

a)  That the draft Annual Report to Full Council at Appendix 1 be agreed;

b)  That the Annual Report at Appendix 1 be referred to Full Council for consideration.

 

The meeting ended at 2:55pm.