Agenda and minutes

Standards Sub-Committee
Wednesday, 14th September, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair

To elect a Chair of the Sub-Committee for this meeting only..

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That Mr Stephen Clarke be elected chair of the Standards sub-committee for this meeting only.

Mr Clarke in the Chair

2.

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:

Councillors and officers were invited to declare any interests they had in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

No declarations of interest were made.

3.

Urgent Decisions

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

Minutes:

No urgent decisions were reported.

4.

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 Sub-Committee, subject to the exclusions set out in the Code of Practice.  (Questions must be submitted 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:

Members of the public were invited to put questions to the Chair on any matters within the powers and duties of the Area Committee, subject to the exclusions set out in the Code of Practice.

 

No public questions were submitted.

5.

Exclusion of the Public and the Public Interest Test

To consider whether it is in the public interest to exclude the public during the consideration of agenda item 6 marked "not for publication" by virtue of the paragraph 1 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), as it contains ‘information relating to an individual’

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That in order to prevent the disclosure of information which was not for publication relating to the financial or business affairs of the any particular person (including the authority), the disclosure of which would not be in the public interest, would not be fair and would be in breach of Data Protection principles, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the ‘not for publication’ agenda item 6 “Complaint received in relation to the Councillors Code of Conduct”  (see Minute 7 below)

6.

Recording of Proceedings

Minutes:

Councillor McAuley requested permission to record the proceedings.

 

The Chair stated that he would not allow the proceedings to be recorded as the information was confidential and the sub-committee had agreed to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting.

7.

Complaint received in relation to the Councillors Code of Conduct

To consider a complaint received against member in relation to an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and Co-opted Members.

Minutes:

The investigating Officer (Michelle Dodds) presented her final report (copies of which had been circulated) of investigation into complaints received regarding the conduct of Councillor McAuley as follows:

 

Complaint 4

The letter disclosed information from a document provided to Councillor McAuley in confidence

 

Complaint 5

The letter brought the Council into disrepute by criticising officers and the Council

 

Complaint 1

By sending a letter to 900 email addresses Councillor McAuley used Council resources for a political purpose

 

Complaint 2

In the letter Councillor McAuley referred to Neil Derbyshire convictions in a malicious way which amounted to bullying and abusive behaviour

 

Complaint 3

The underlying purpose of the letter was to undermine and discredit Sue Derbyshire so as to use Councillor McAuley’s position improperly to confer an advantage on himself and/or a disadvantage on Sue Derbyshire

 

She summarised the nature of the five complaints, her findings of fact, recommendation and reasons.

 

Councillor McAuley made representations and asked questions during the Investigating Officers submission. Members of the sub-committee also asked questions.

 

Councillor McAuley was invited to present his case and the Investigating Officer and members of the sub-committee were invited to ask questions.

 

The Independent Person then made representations before the above parties summed-up and withdrew from the meeting whilst the sub-committee deliberated the representations made.

 

The meeting then reconvened and the Investigating Officer, Independent Person and the complainant (Mr Neil Derbyshire) and his wife (Mrs Sue Derbyshire) were in attendance. Councillor McAuley was not present.

 

The Chair reported that the standards sub-committee had found as follows:

 

BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY

 

In relation to the complaint 4 that Councillor McAuley had disclosed confidential information in a resignation letter sent on 11 April 2016 and in relation to the disclosure of a draft Council report, the subcommittee found that Councillor McAuley had breached the Code of Conduct.

 

The reasons given by Councillor McAuley for making the disclosure were considered to be largely irrelevant. Councillor McAuley knew that the Council report was a draft and that it had been withdrawn. The appendices to the reports marked confidential. The email covering the report was marked confidential and contained reference within it to the confidential nature of the appendices. Once withdrawn the report no longer represented the intentions of the Council. It therefore had no value to prove anything as it was going to be rewritten. The sub-committee considers that Councillor McAuley‘s aim of ensuring that the unacceptable draft report should not go forward to consideration at the Executive has been achieved.

 

DISREPUTE

 

In relation to the complaint 5 that the resignation letter brought the Council into disrepute by criticising officers and the Council the sub-committee found that there had been a breach of the Code.

 

The sub-committee felt this was a finely balanced issue. Taken as a whole the letter is critical of the Council by suggesting that the Council's strategy and consultation was inadequate and this criticism could not be justified criticism in the context of a withdrawn report which Caroline Simpson’s email of 6 April 2016 shows was withdrawn for a number of reasons including to correct the problems with consultation.

 

USE OF RESOURCE FOR A POLITICAL PURPOSE

 

In relation to the complaint 1 that Councillor McAuley used Council resources for a political purpose when sending the resignation letter from his Stockport email address; the sub-committee found that there had been a breach of the Code.

 

Councillor McAuley accepted that this had amounted to a breach of the Code.

 

BULLYING AND ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR

 

In relation to the complaint that Councillor McAuley’s resignation letter amounted to bullying and abusive behaviour. The sub-committee found that there had not been a breach of the Code and agreed with the report of the Investigating Officer.

 

IMPROPERLY CONFERRING A DISADVANTAGE

 

In relation to the complaint 3 that the underlying purpose of the letter was to undermine and discredit the former Councillor Sue Derbyshire. The sub-committee found that there had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.