Agenda and draft minutes
Standards (Hearing) Sub-Committee - Thursday, 20th February, 2020 10.00 am
Venue: Council Antechamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions
Contact: Andrew Woods
Appointment of Chair
To appoint Mr G Linnell as the Chair of the Subcommittee for this hearing.
Exclusion of the Public
The officers consider that the following items contains exempt information as provided for in the Local Government Access to Information Act and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. The Subcommittee is recommended to agree the necessary resolutions excluding the public from the meeting during consideration of these items. At the time this agenda is published no representations have been that this part of the meeting should be open to the public.
To exclude the public during consideration of the following item which involved consideration of exempt information relating to any individual, and the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
The Hearing of Complaints Concerning an Alleged Breach of the Code of Conduct for Members
A number of complaints had been made that the conduct of a member of the Council constituted a breach of the Council’s Code of Conduct for Members. The Subcommittee conducted a hearing into the complaints in accordance with the Council’s procedure for hearing of allegations of misconduct.
(a) The finding on the facts
The Monitoring Officer had appointed an independent Investigating Officer to examine the complaints. The Subcommittee considered the Investigating Officer’s report. The report included statements from the complainants and from the Member. The Subcommittee also watched a video of the incident that had resulted in the complaints being made. None of the complainants had personally witnessed the incident, all had become aware of it when the video was published on a website.
The Subcommittee heard from the Member, and two other councillors who accompanied the Member as his representatives, including information that the exchange between the member and Councillor Leech was longer than evidenced by the video which was accepted by the Panel. The Member was given the opportunity to put questions to the Investigating Officer.
The Subcommittee noted the time that had elapsed between the incident and this Hearing taking place. In noting that, they were satisfied that the proper investigatory procedure had been followed in relation to these complaints.
That the facts were not disputed and were accepted by the Subcommittee as the determined facts of the matter being considered.
(c) Question as to whether the Code of Conduct had been breached
Having considered the report of the Investigating Officer and the written and oral statements of the Member the Subcommittee examined the Code of Conduct to consider whether the conduct of the Member breached that Code. The Investigating Officer’s report addressed three sections of the Code of Conduct and the Subcommittee considered and reached a decision on each in turn.
1. The Subcommittee did not feel there was sufficient evidence that the conduct of the Member amounted to harassment, bullying or abusive behaviour by the member against another Councillor. Therefore, there was no breach of the Code of Conduct section 3.1(b): “bully or be abusive to any person”.
2. The Subcommittee agreed that in having 14 of the letters of the sign displayed in the Council Chamber produced by the Member Services staff the Member did misuse the resources of the Council in breach of Section 6(b) of the Code and in doing so failed to demonstrate having regards to the use of the Local Authority code of publicity in breach of section 6(c) of the Code of Conduct.
“Section 6(b) You must, when using or authorising the use by others of the resources of your authority:
(i) act in accordance with the Council’s reasonable requirements; and
(ii) ensure that such resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes);
Section 6 (c) You must have regard to any applicable Local Authority Code of Publicity made under the Local Government Act 1986.”
3. The subcommittee did not ... view the full minutes text for item 3.