[To receive a report from the Monitoring Officer on any matters of relevance to the Committee.]
The Committee noted the contents of the Monitoring Officer's (MO's) report and the issues detailed below were raised during the consideration of this.
(i) Complaints for Local Assessment
In relation to the Assessment Sub-Committee meeting which had taken place on 28th May 2012 to consider Complaint Reference 13/11, the Deputy Monitoring Officer (DMO) advised that the Sub-Committee had determined that no further action be taken against the Subject Member. No further details of the case were disclosed as the parties involved in the matter had only that day been notified of the outcome and Officers therefore wished to ensure that they were first aware of the position.
(ii) Complaint References 07/11, 08/11 and 09/11
The DMO updated Members as to the position with the ongoing investigations for Complaint References 07/11, 08/11 and 09/11 (see (iii) below).
(iii) Localism Act 2011
The DMO advised that the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 had been laid before Parliament on 8th June 2012 and would come into force on 1st July 2012. The Regulations contained a Schedule which provided a description of what constituted pecuniary interests. It was noted that Full Council on 19th June would be considering a report on the new standards arrangements.
The DMO updated Members on the transitional arrangements and confirmed that the new regime would be introduced on 1st July. Regarding current ongoing investigations, the DMO stated that where the Investigating Officer had written their report and this had reached committee stage the matter would continue under the new regime and would be subject to the revised list of sanctions. However, this did not apply to the Council's current investigations. In cases where the Investigating Officer's report had not reached that stage then there was no provision contained in the transitional arrangements for the matter to proceed any further.
Members queried whether a complainant could lodge a further complaint based on the same matter. The MO/DMO stated that they did not think this could happen as the new Code would apply to alleged conduct which had taken place after 1st July. The MO stated that whilst this might be unsatisfactory for a complainant, the transitional arrangements were such that there was no other available option.
Members discussed the key changes to the disclosure of interests under the new regime, in particular the requirement for Members to disclose such interests in relation to their spouse/civil partner and the implications of this. Mr. Cypher advised of a meeting which he had attended with the West Midlands Local Government Association regarding the disclosure of data for other parties and the implications of this with the Data Commissioner.
The DMO advised that Officers were currently working with legal colleagues within the County on the drafting of a new register of interests form for Members and accompanying guidance. However, in view of the lateness of the regulations this was being done very last minute and with no guidance from central government at that stage to assist Officers.
Finally, the DMO updated Members on a recent legislative change in relation to current Independent Members who might wish to seek to apply to become an Independent Person under the new regime, which Officers would ensure all Independent Members were made fully aware of.
(a) that the contents of the report be noted; and
(b) that any required actions arising from the points detailed in the report and the preamble above be acted upon, as appropriate.