Venue: The Council House, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove. View directions
Contact: Debbie Parker-Jones
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Ms. K. J. Sharpe (Vice-Chairman, Independent Member), Mrs. G. Bell (Independent Member) and District Councillors Mrs. S. J. Baxter and S. R. Colella.
Apologies were also received from Mrs. K. May, Deputy Parish Councils' Representative, who was unable to substitute for Mr. J. Cypher for agenda item 5 (Consideration of Investigating Officer's Final Report into Complaint References 03/10 and 04/10).
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were received.
Mr. Cypher stated that he would be standing down for Agenda Item No. 5 (Consideration of Investigating Officer's Final Report into Complaint References 03/10 and 04/10) as the Parish Representatives on the Committee were not permitted to participate in the consideration of complaints against Members of their own parish council.
[To make a final determination in relation to Complaint Reference 94/09 against former District Councillor Mrs. J. D. Luck.]
Further to Minute No. 53/10 of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 23rd March 2011, the Committee considered a report of the Investigating Officer on an alleged failure by former District Councillor Mrs Jean Luck to follow the Code of Conduct.
The complaint concerned an allegation that Mrs. Luck had failed to treat others with respect and had used her position to confer a disadvantage.
A report of the Investigating Officer dated 24th February 2011, which had found that Mrs. Luck had failed to follow the Code of Conduct in relation to the allegation, was considered. The Committee was asked to determine whether, based on the facts set out in the report and the representations made at the hearing, it agreed with the Investigating Officer's findings.
Further to the Investigating Officer's report having been made public at the consideration meeting in March, a request was received from the complainant for her identity to remain confidential. The Committee considered the request and agreed that, in the circumstances detailed, the complainant's identity could remain confidential. Any public copies of the report would therefore be redacted to remove the personal details of the complainant, together with any additional personal information.
It was noted that Mrs Luck had opted not to attend the hearing, or to be represented or to provide any written representations in support of her case. Mrs Luck had further advised the Council's Ethical Standards Officer that she was happy for the hearing to proceed in her absence.
(a) that Mrs. Luck had failed to follow the Code of Conduct by being in breach of Part 1 paragraph 3 (1) in that she failed to treat others with respect, and paragraph 6 (a) in that she had used her position to confer a disadvantage; and
(b) that Mrs. Luck be censured for breaching the Code of Conduct.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE AUTHORITY
The Committee made the following recommendation to the authority:
(a) that in light of the outcome of the case that the Members of the Council should be reminded of the importance of treating all their ward members with respect when dealing with casework, and of the need to ensure that they always respond to requests for help in a balanced and fair way.
For information the Committee was advised of a forthcoming training session for Members on the Role of the Ward Councillor and it was confirmed that a further reminder for the training session would be sent to all Members of the Council.
(A copy of the Committee's full decision, together with the reasons for it, is appended.)
Exclusion of the Public
[To consider, and if considered appropriate, to pass the following resolution to exclude the public from the meeting during the consideration of an item of business containing exempt information:
"RESOLVED: that under Section 100 I of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, the public be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act, as amended, the relevant paragraphs of that part being as set out below, and that it is in the public interest to do so:
Item No. Paragraphs
5 1, 2 & 7C" ]
The Committee considered whether or not to exclude the public from the meeting for the consideration of Agenda Item No. 5; Consideration of Investigating Officer's Final Report into Complaint References 03/10 and 04/10. In doing so, the Chairman announced that the meeting be adjourned to take legal advice.
Accordingly, the meeting was adjourned from 4.08pm to 4.18pm.
Having reconvened, the Deputy Monitoring Officer summarised the legal advice given to the Committee and confirmed that the Committee had agreed to lift the exemption as it was not felt that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information. It was noted however that the Investigating Officer's report contained certain personal information, some of which also fell within the category of sensitive material, meaning suitably redacted copies only of the report could be made available to the public.
RESOLVED that the public not be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of Agenda Item No. 5 and that the relevant reports therefore be placed in the public domain.
Consideration of Investigating Officer's Final Report into Complaint References 03/10 and 04/10
[To consider the Investigating Officer's Final Report into linked Complaint References 03/10 and 04/10 against Alvechurch Parish Councillor D. Matthews.]
Further to a referral from the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee on 15th June 2010, the Committee was asked to give consideration, under regulation 17 of the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008, to two complaints made against Alvechurch Parish Councillor David Matthews. The complaints were that Councillor Matthews had allegedly failed to declare an interest at three Alvechurch Parish Council meetings.
The Investigating Officer had produced a single report which dealt with both complaints. Members were asked to consider the Investigating Officer's report and finding as to whether there had been a failure on the part of Councillor Matthews to comply with the Alvechurch Parish Council Code of Conduct.
RESOLVED that the Investigating Officer's finding of a failure by Councillor Matthews to comply with the Alvechurch Parish Council Code of Conduct be considered at a hearing of the Standards Committee conducted under regulation 18 of the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008.