Issue - items at meetings - Localism Act 2011 - New Standards Regime - Dispensations and Complaints Porcesses

Issue - meetings

Localism Act 2011 - New Standards Regime - Dispensations and Complaints Porcesses

Meeting: 28/11/2012 - Standards Committee (this Committee has now been combined wit the Audit, Standrds and Governance Committee and no longer meets) (Item 14)

14 Localism Act 2011 - New Standards Regime - Dispensations and Complaints Processes pdf icon PDF 71 KB

[To consider the granting of general dispensations under s33 of the Localism Act 2011, the processes for the investigation, reporting and recording of complaints made against Members and the process for local hearings.]


Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report on the granting of general dispensations under s33 of the Localism Act 2011 and under the Members' Code of Conduct, to enable Members to participate and vote on matters under consideration at meetings in certain circumstances.  The report also sought approval of guidelines for both the conduct of investigations into allegations of breach of the Members' Code of Conduct, and of a Hearing following such an investigation.  Members' views were also sought on the management and investigation of complaints and when information in this regard should be made public.  


An apology was made by Officers for the initial error with the Portfolio Holders name as denoted in the report.  Officers had contacted the correct Portfolio Holder and Leader of the Opposition and amended the website details as soon as the error had come to light.


(i)  Dispensations


Officers explained that there had been some debate nationally as to whether such dispensations were required.  Following discussions with County colleagues it was felt that there was some ambiguity in this regard and that it was therefore best to bring this to Members should any issues arise in this regard in the future. 


The Monitoring Officer (MO) explained that blanket dispensations no longer applied under the Localism Act and Members who may have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) in a matter under consideration, and who would therefore otherwise be precluded from participating and voting on the matter, were now required to make a written request for dispensation.  Full Council had delegated to the Standards Committee the consideration of whether to grant a dispensation, and rather than taking each individual request for dispensation to the Committee the MO was seeking Members' approval for general dispensations to be granted in certain circumstances.


The MO considered that general dispensations might be required where the business of a meeting was the setting of Council Tax and Members' Allowances.  In order to satisfy this requirement it was proposed that the MO would circulate to all members of the Council a request form seeking such dispensations.  Officers advised that, with the Group Leaders' approval, they would likely draft a single form for all Members to sign prior to consideration of the budget.


Subject to the Committee's approval of the grant of general dispensations in the circumstances outlined, and on receipt of a written request from a Member for dispensation, the dispensations would take effect until the first Standards Committee meeting following the District Council Elections in 2015. 


The Committee approved the granting of general dispensations in the above circumstances, save for Councillor Braley who requested that it be recorded that he had voted against this. 


The Committee's approval was also sought on the grant of a general dispensation where a Member with a DPI in a matter under consideration could address Council and committees in circumstances where a member of the public may elect to speak.  Such an exemption had applied under the previous standards regime but had not transferred under the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14