Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

73.

To consider the extent, if any, to which the Public and Press are to be excluded from the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no items on the agenda where the public and press were to be excluded.

74.

Declarations of Interest, if any

Minutes:

There were no declarations made at the meeting.

 

75.

Adoption of a New Model Code of Conduct for Members pdf icon PDF 471 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Scott Fawcus, Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer, introduced a report which presented a new Model Code of Conduct for Members that had recently been launched by the Local Government Association (LGA) for Local Authorities to consider adopting in place of their current Codes.

 

In outlining the background, the Monitoring Officer explained that the production of an updated Model Code of Conduct had been a recommendation arising from a review of local government ethical standards by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in 2019.  The aim of this was to address the apparent inconsistencies in Codes across England and to reflect the common expectations of the public regardless of geography or tier.  The LGA had subsequently been tasked with creating an updated Model Code in consultation with representative bodies of councillors and officers of all tiers of local government.  A final national Model Code had been issued in late December 2020 for Councils to consider, a copy of which was attached to the report at Appendix A, together with a copy of this Council’s current Code at Appendix B.

 

In summarising the key changes in the new Model Code, the Monitoring Officer confirmed that the Code included a new section outlining general principles of Councillor Conduct, which was still based on upholding the Seven Principles of Public Life (aka the Nolan Principles).  The new Code also provided greater clarity as to when the Code applied to a Councillor’s actions, i.e. when acting as a Councillor, which included all forms of communication and interaction by Councillors, with a new specific reference to electronic and social media communication, posts, statements and comments.  The Monitoring Officer also explained that the provisions in the new Code relating to declaring and registering interests widened the current requirements and was a return to the position which Members were adhering to prior to 2011.  This comprised a new requirement for Members to declare all other interests in addition to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, only speak if the public were allowed to speak, not participate in the discussion or vote and leave the room (subject to dispensation).

 

The Monitoring Officer also informed the Committee that, in light of comments received from Members, he intended to review the Council’s Complaint Handling Procedure for Code of Conduct complaints and bring a report back to this Committee’s first meeting in the new Municipal Year.  He stated that he intended to make revisions to the Procedure which would clarify that the Code of Conduct process will only apply to formal complaints received on the Council’s complaint form, and that vexatious complaints will not be considered.

 

In concluding, the Monitoring Officer confirmed the timeframe for adopting the new Code, with a suggested date of 7th May for implementation of the Code, which was the date at which the election results would be announced.  Following the Code’s approval, the Monitoring Officer explained that he intended to contact all Parish and Town Council Clerks in the Borough, encouraging them to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.