Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee - Thursday, 5th April, 2012 7.10 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2 - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Gary Marson  (Tel: 020 8753 2278)

Items
No. Item

8.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 41 KB

To approve as an accurate record, and the Chairman to sign, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 July 2011.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED THAT:

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 20 July 2011 be confirmed and signed as an accurate record of the proceedings.

 

9.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Donald Johnson, Grace Moody-Stuart and Steven Moussavi.

10.

Declaration of Interests

If a Councillor has any prejudicial or personal interest in a particular report he/she should declare the existence and nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of the item or as soon as it becomes apparent.

 

At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a prejudicial interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter. The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken, unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Standards Committee.

 

Where members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance, then the Councillor with a prejudicial interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration, unless the disability has been removed by the Standards Committee.

 

 

Minutes:

All members of the Committee in attendance declared a personal interest in the item concerning Members allowances since it set out details of the payments each had received from the Authority in 2011/12. As the interests were not prejudicial each Member remained in the room and participated in the debate thereon.

 

11.

Localism Act 2012 - Implementation of Proposals pdf icon PDF 59 KB

The Localism Act 2011 abolishes the existing Standards regime and introduces a new framework for the regulation of Member conduct.  This report sets out the relevant provisions of the Act along with notable implications for the Council and proposals for local implementation. It is anticipated that the new provisions will come into effect from 1st July 2012.

 

Minutes:

The Committee received a report setting out the provisions of Localism Act 2011 which abolished the existing Standards regime and introduced a new framework for the regulation of Member conduct.  It was noted that the new provisions which  place a duty on a relevant authority to ensure that its Members and co-opted Members maintain high standards of conduct and requires such authorities to adopt a code of conduct for their Members will come into effect from 1st July 2012..  The specific responsibility of maintaining high standards of conduct for Members will be delegated to the Audit and Pensions Committee. 

 

The Act requires the adoption of a code whose contents must be consistent with the seven ‘Nolan’ principles of standards in public life (selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership), and must set out the rules that the authority wants to put in place with regard to requiring Members to register and disclose pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests.  It was noted that once the LGA’s draft model code had been issued, Members will consider whether its’ provisions are robust enough.  The new code would contain guidance on the use of Social Media by Members as recommended at a previous Standards Committee.  As all H&F Members’ declarations are already available online, the current arrangements for the declaration of interests will continue.

 

Members noted that Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham Councils will each appoint an Independent Member separately. They will jointly  form a pool to ensure that there are sufficient numbers to be consulted on by any of the parties involved in the process.  An allowance in the region of £500 per annum will be paid to the Independent Person.

 

The initial assessment on whether to investigate a complaint would be delegated to the Monitoring Officer who will consult with one of the Independent Persons.  Where they do not consider there to be a breach, the Monitoring Officer will inform the complainant of their decision and no further action would be taken.  Where they consider that there might be a breach, the complaint will be referred to the Audit and Pensions Committee for investigation.  The Audit and Pensions Committee will appoint a Sub-Committee to hear the complaint and determine whether or not there has been a breach of the Code. The views of the independent person will be sought after the investigation has been carried out and before the Audit and Pensions Sub-Committee takes a decision on the Complaint  Where a Member is dissatisfied with the decision of the Audit and Pensions Sub-Committee an appeal can be lodged against the decision.

 

Resolved:

 

·        That the proposals for the new Standards Regime as set out in the report be recommended to full Council for implementation.

 

·        That the publication of a joint advert for the recruitment of Independent Persons in conjunction with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, be approved.

 

·        That the Standards Committee Appointments Panel shortlist and select the Independent Person as required by the legislation and make recommendations to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Members Allowances 2011/12 Outturn pdf icon PDF 36 KB

This report responds to a request from the Committee to receive annually a report on the Members’ Allowances Scheme and how much each Member was paid in the previous year.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received details of the Members Allowances scheme approved for the 2012/13 Municipal Year together with the amounts paid to each elected Councillors and Co-opted Members in 2011/12.  It was noted that allowances remained frozen in line with 2008/09 levels.  

 

The Council’s Scheme broadly remains the same as agreed in May 2011 except for the creation of a Lead Member for Resident Involvement (Housing) SRA entitled post.  This role was created due to the strategic importance of Housing in the Administration’s policy agenda to assist the Cabinet Member for Housing.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the 2012/13 Members Allowances Scheme and the 2011/12 allowances outturn be noted.

 

13.

Local Assessment of Complaints - Review pdf icon PDF 41 KB

This report outlines activity by the Standards (Assessment & Review) Sub- Committees from June 2008 to date.

 

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the activity of the Standards (Assessment and Review) Sub- Committees in respect of the determination of complaints against Members for the period since June 2008.  In the period to date six complaints have been considered by the Assessment Sub-Committee, one of which was appealed to  the Review Sub-Committee.  Four of these complaints were received from members of the public while two were from Councillors.  The relatively low level of complaints compared with volumes in other authorities suggests that Councillors and Co-opted Members in Hammersmith & Fulham maintain high standards of ethical conduct.

 

In half of the cases considered, no breach was found and, therefore, no action taken on the allegation.  In the other three, the Assessment Sub-Committee decided to refer the matter to the Monitoring Officer for other action to be taken.  On the occasion on which it was convened the Review Sub Committee upheld the decision of the Assessment Sub Committee to find no breach. The outcome of the some of the complaints have helped to formulate policy and raise the awareness of ethics and standards issues amongst Members through the referral of the matter to the Monitoring Officer for other action to be taken.

 

RESOLVED:-

 

1          That the decisions of the Standards (Assessment & Review) Sub-Committees from June 2008 to date be noted.