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To consider the extent, if any, to which the public and press are to be excluded from the meeting.
The Chair confirmed that it was intended to hold today’s Hearing in public, unless Members of the Sub-Committee wished at any stage to discuss in detail any of the sensitive information in relation to Mrs Foster’s complaint (exempt agenda papers Appendix D and Annex 1), in which case it would be necessary for the public and press to be excluded from the Hearing at that point.
Declarations of Interest, if any.
No declarations were made at the meeting.
(Appendix D and Annex 1 of the Investigating Officer’s report contain exempt information under Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) (information relating to any individual and the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the Authority holding that information)
At the commencement of this item, the Sub-Committee briefly adjourned to consider a request from Parish Councillor Michael Hennessey for additional papers to be made available to the Sub-Committee, setting out his comments on the complaints. Having considered this request, the Chair advised Councillor Hennessey that these additional submissions would not be accepted on the grounds that Members were satisfied that all parties had been given ample opportunity to make comments during the consultation stage of the investigation and the Investigating Officer’s Report adequately reflected the comments made. Furthermore, Councillor Hennessey was reminded that he would have the opportunity to refer to the additional information when making his representations during the Hearing.
The Committee considered the final report of the Investigating Officer, Helen Potts which was presented to the Monitoring Officer on 12th May 2016. The report related to allegations in respect of Parish Councillor Michael Hennessey of Thorne Moorends Town Council, that he had breached the Thorne Moorends Town Council’s Member Code of Conduct. The investigation had been undertaken as a result of two separate complaints being received by the Monitoring Officer in January 2016 against Parish Councillor Hennessey:-
· The first complaint, submitted by Mrs Sharon Foster, alleged that in November 2015 Councillor Hennessey had interfered with goods, removing them from a Council store room and depositing them at Mrs Foster’s home in an inappropriate manner, without authority from Thorne Moorends Town Council to do so.
· A second complaint submitted by Councillor Susan Durant of Thorne Moorends Town Council alleged that Councillor Hennessey had physically assaulted her prior to the commencement of a Town Council meeting in December 2015.
The Investigating Officer summarised the main findings within her report, in particular, outlining the rationale for reaching her conclusions that, in respect of both complaints, Parish Councillor Hennessey had failed to comply with the Code of Conduct of the authority concerned in relation to the following obligations of the Code:-
· He/she shall behave in such a way that a reasonable person would regard as respectful.
· He/she shall not act in a way which a reasonable person would regard as bullying or intimidatory.
· He/she shall use the resources of the Council in accordance with its requirements.
Councillor Hennessey was also provided the opportunity to question the Investigator on the content of her report. Members were then afforded the opportunity to ask questions of the Investigating Officer.
The subject member, Parish Councillor Hennessey, was then invited to present his case, following which the Sub-Committee asked him a range of questions with regard to the allegations. During the questioning, Mrs Foster (complainant) was invited by the Chair to outline the circumstances surrounding the incident she had complained about. Consequently, the Sub-Committee resolved to exclude the public and press at this point, in light of the fact that Mrs Foster’s complaint contained exempt information in relation to the business affairs and personal circumstances of the complainant.
The public and press were then re-admitted to the meeting. The Investigating Officer and Parish Councillor ... view the full minutes text for item 3.