Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Monday, 2nd September, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That Mr Stephen Clarke be elected Chair of the Committee for the period until the next Annual Council Meeting.

Mr Stephen Clarke in the Chair

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chair

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That Mr Kieran McMahon be appointed Vice-Chair of the Committee for the period until the next Annual Council Meeting.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 46 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 11 February 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes (copies of which had been circulated) of the meeting held on 11 February 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair, subject to the deletion of the word ‘Councillor’ from the first line of the list of Independent Members present at the meeting.

4.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors and officers to declare any interests which they have in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

 

5.

Urgent Decisions

To report any urgent action taken under the Constitution since the last meeting of the Committee.

At the Full Council on 4 July 2019 a motion was put forward by Cllr Sheila Bailey in relation to Section 21 “No Fault” Notices – the right of a Landlord to given notice to a tenant without giving a reason. As a result of the advice of the Monitoring Officer, on the strict interpretation of the Council’s Code of Conduct regarding Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal Prejudicial Interests in relation to landlords and tenants, immediately prior to the meeting, the Leader asked that the Deputy Chief Executive (in the absence of the Chief Executive) to take an urgent decision to grant a dispensation to those Councillors who wanted to remain in the Chamber to debate and vote on the motion.  After discussing the matter with the Leader and the Deputy Chief Executive, it was agreed that a dispensation should be granted on the statutory ground that “without the dispensation the number of persons prohibited from participating in any particular business would be so great a proportion of the body transacting the business as to impede the transaction of the business.” In lieu of being un-able to discuss the matter with the Chair of the Standards Committee, the Mayor was consulted on the proposed action who agreed with the proposal and furthermore, agreed that it should be reported to the next meeting of the Standards Committee for information.

 

Minutes:

At the Council Meeting held on 4 July 2019 a motion had been put forward in relation to the ‘Abolition of Section 21 No Fault Evictions’ – the right of a landlord to give notice to a tenant without giving a reason. As a result of the advice of the Monitoring Officer, on the strict interpretation of the Council’s Code of Conduct regarding Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal Prejudicial Interests in relation to landlords and tenants, immediately prior to the meeting, the Leader of the Council requested the Deputy Chief Executive (in the absence of the Chief Executive) to take an urgent decision to grant a dispensation to those Councillors who wanted to remain in the Chamber to debate and vote on the motion.  

 

After discussing the matter with the Leader of the Council and the Deputy Chief Executive, it had been agreed that a dispensation should be granted on the statutory ground that “without the dispensation the number of persons prohibited from participating in any particular business would be so great a proportion of the body transacting the business as to impede the transaction of the business.” In lieu of being un-able to discuss the matter with the Chair of the Standards Committee, the Mayor was consulted on the proposed action who agreed with the proposal and, furthermore, agreed that it should be reported to the next meeting of the Standards Committee for information.

The Committee debated the issue and expressed concern that the decision to seek a dispensation had not been made at an earlier stage prior to the Council Meeting which would have enabled the Chair of this Committee to be consulted on it.

 

6.

Public Question Time

Members of the public are invited to put questions to the Chair on any matters within the powers and duties of the Committee, subject to the exclusions set out in the Code of Practice.  (Questions must be submitted no later than prior to the commencement of the meeting on the card provided.  These are available at the meeting. You can also submit via the Council’s website at www.stockport.gov.uk/publicquestions)

Minutes:

No public questions were submitted.

7.

Update on the Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life - January 2019 pdf icon PDF 277 KB

To consider a report of the Monitoring Officer. (To Follow)

 

The report provides and update on how the Council has address issues raised in the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life published in January 2019.

 

The Committee are invited to consider and comment on the report.

 

Officer Contact: Vicki Bates on Tel: 474 3219 or email: vicki.bates@stockport.gov.uk

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) updating the Committee on the Council’s position regarding the best practice recommendations contained in the 20th report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life dated January 2019 entitled ‘Local Government Ethical Standards, A Review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life’.

 

RESOLVED – That the recommendations of the Monitoring Officer on the best practice recommendations contained in paragraph 2.8.1 of the report be supported, with the following modifications:-

 

·         With regard to Recommendation 1, the Committee requested that definitions of bullying and harassment be included, perhaps by reference to the ACAS Code of Practice. Members of the Committee requested that the definitions be sent to them by email for their comments.

·         With regard to Recommendation 3, the views of neighbouring authorities on their Codes of Conduct should be sought periodically.

·         With regard to Recommendation 4, it was agreed that the Monitoring Officer be requested to liaise with the Council’s Head of IT to ascertain if the Code of Conduct could be more prominent on the Council’s website and therefore more easily accessible to members of the public.

·         With regard to Recommendation 9, it was agreed that the Independent Person’s views on allegations of misconduct following a formal investigation should not be published.

·         With regard to Recommendation 14, it was agreed that the Monitoring Officer would provide clarification on to what extent the Council already reported on the separate bodies which it had set up or owned, as part of its annual governance statement.