Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee (this Committee has now been combined wit the Audit, Standrds and Governance Committee and no longer meets) - Thursday 9th October 2014 6.00 p.m.

Venue: The Council House, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove

Contact: Debbie Parker-Jones 

No. Item


Election of Chairman


RESOLVED that Councillor B. T. Cooper be elected Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing Municipal Year.



Election of Vice-Chairman


RESOLVED that Councillor M. A. Bullivant be elected Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing Municipal Year.



Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors C. M. McDonald and and C. R. Scurrell.


Members expressed their thanks to Councillor M. S. Sherrey, former member and outgoing Chairman of the Committee, for her work on the Committee.



Declarations of Interest

To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and/or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.




No declarations of interest were declared.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 87 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 9th January 2014 were submitted.


RESOLVED that the minutes be approved as a correct record.



Monitoring Officer's Report pdf icon PDF 155 KB

[To receive a report from the Monitoring Officer of any matters of relevance to the Committee.]




Member Complaints


Following previous requests from Members, the Monitoring Officer explained that general background information in relation to the complaints received since January had been included in her report.  This would allow the Committee to identify any complaint trends which might be emerging.


A Member queried whether it would be possible for the MO to advise who a complaint had been made by; either another councillor or a member of the public, and whether this had been made by a persistent complainant.  Conversely, another Member felt that such information should not be disclosed.


The MO stated that, at the training session which had taken place immediately preceding the meeting that evening, she had been asked by some Members to look at whether she could confirm which category complainants fell into.  This information was not disclosed at present and the MO agreed to consider this as part of the wider constitution review work which she was currently undertaking. 


One of the Parish Representatives highlighted that the majority of the complaints received during January to August 2014 were against parish councillors, which presented a somewhat different picture than had previously been the case.  As this was the first time the Parish Representatives had been made aware of the complaints, and as there were a number of issues linked with these, it was queried whether the MO could share relevant complaint info periodically with the Parish Representatives when meetings of the Committee were not proceeding.  The Parish Representative added that he felt there should be some reinforcement at the Bromsgrove Area Committee of the County Association of Local Councils (CALC) meetings of the work the MO was carrying out on parish councillor complaints, with the Parish Representatives being keen to do whatever they could to assist the MO in promoting this.  The issue of possible training needs linked with complaints against parish councillors and the Code of Conduct also arose, which it was felt CALC might wish to consider.


The MO agreed that the need to have regular MO’s reports detailing complaints received and action taken on these was a valid point.  She stated that when the regime changed in 2012 here had been very little detail from central government as to had been expected of local authorities moving forward, and she was unsure as to whether the current committee system was appropriate as the role of the Standards Committee was not proving to be as effective as had previously been the case, with a number of meetings having been cancelled owing to lack of business.  As such, the Constitution Review Group was keen to look at this issue.


The MO added that initially under the new regime more complaints had been made against district councillors.  A number of parish council issues had recently arisen which she had liaised with Richard Levett, Executive Officer of the Worcestershire County Association of Local Councils, on, and for which Mr Levett had been very supportive.  The government had changed the role of parish representatives on standards  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/14


Parish Councils' Representatives' Report

[To receive an oral report from the Parish Councils’ Representatives on any matters of relevance to the Committee.]




The Parish Representative thanked the Monitoring Officer (MO) and her colleagues for the work they had undertaken on the parish council complaints. 


He stated that he would like to think that he and the other Parish Representatives could help the parish councils affected, and assist in reinforcing any messages which the MO wished to send out to the parishes.  He felt there might be merit in reporting to the parish councils, via a future meeting of the Bromsgrove Area Committee of the Worcestershire County Association of Local Councils (CALC), relevant messages from the MO, and to generate interest on any relevant training which might be helpful to the parishes.


He added that the December CALC meeting would likely be too late to seek the parishes’ views on the issue raised under the MO’s report on the reporting of Member complaints.  As such, he agreed to issue a note to the parish councils on this and to report back any responses to the MO for her to feed into the Constitution Review Group.


RESOLVED that the update provided and action to be undertaken by the Parish Councils’ Representative in relation to complaint reporting be noted.



Localism Act 2011 - Standards Regime - Dispensations pdf icon PDF 135 KB

[To consider the granting of a dispensation to a Member under s33 of the Localism Act 2011 and to remove another Member from the existing list of dispensations.]



Additional documents:


The Committee received a report which sought the grant of a dispensation under s33 of the Localism Act 2011 to enable a Member to participate and vote in matters detailed in the appendix to the report.  The report also sought the removal of a Member from the list of previously approved dispensations as the Member in question was no longer a trustee of the organisation. 



(a)          that the Standards Committee grant a dispensation under section 33 (2) of the Localism Act 2011 to allow Councillor Keith Grant-Pearce to participate in and vote at Council and committee meetings in debates concerning the Artrix Theatre generally, but not in relation to funding issues;

(b)          that the dispensation referred to at (a) above be valid until the first Standards Committee meeting after the local elections in 2015; and

(c)          the dispensation previously granted to Councillor Jonathan Boulter in relation to the Artrix Operating Trust be removed as he is no longer a Trustee of the Trust.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 103 KB

[To consider the future Work Programme of the Committee.]




As discussed earlier in the meeting under the Monitoring Officer’s Report (Minute No. 6/14 refers) it was noted that the meetings of the Committee scheduled for 15th January and 17th March 2015 would proceed in order for the Monitoring Officer to update Members on any complaints received.


RESOLVED that the Work Programme be approved.