Agenda and minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Graham Walton  020 84617743

Items
No. Item

1.

TO APPOINT A CHAIRMAN AND VICE-CHAIRMAN FOR 2017/18

Minutes:

Councillors Ian F. Payne and Vanessa Allen were appointed Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the 2017/18 Council year.

2.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Stephen Wells.

3.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Chairman of this Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting.  Therefore please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Friday 30th June 2017.

 

Minutes:

No questions had been received.

5.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 5TH DECEMBER 2013 AND MATTERS ARISING pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 5th December 2015 be confirmed.

6.

CODE OF CONDUCT pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD17106

 

The Committee received a report on the operation of the standards system in Bromley, noting the current arrangements and in particular the limited sanctions available other than for breaches of the Code of Conduct in relation to declarable pecuniary interests (DPIs) which would be investigated by the Police, with the Director of Public Prosecutions responsible for considering whether criminal charges should be brought. Censure and adverse publicity were the main sanctions, with the Localism Act 2011 envisaging sanctions should be through the ballot box rather than the standards system. Requiring a Member to take training was possible, but there was no way to enforce this. Members could be removed from membership of committees, but this could only be decided by full Council on the recommendation of the party group. 

 

The Committee also discussed the resources available should it be necessary to conduct a standards investigation, with a co-opted member expressing concern that the Police might be reluctant to investigate while the Council might not have the resources and expertise to conduct a forensic audit. Members accepted that they would have to find the appropriate resources, based on legal advice. A co-opted member also suggested that the profile of standards issues and the Committee’s role needed to be raised; at the same time it was important not to encourage unnecessary complaints. 

 

The report sought the Committee’s views on whether any changes were required to the standards regime for the new Council to be elected in May 2018. The following potential issues had been identified –

 

(1) Dispensations

 

The Committee considered whether to allow a Member with a disclosable pecuniary interest to remain in a meeting provided they did not speak or address the Committee where that right would be available to a member of the public. The Committee concluded that the Code should be amended to allow this.

 

(2) Gifts and Hospitality

 

Members considered whether to retain the need to register gifts and hospitality and, if so, whether they wished to retain the current threshold of £25. It was concluded that the £25 threshold should remain.

 

(3) Registerable Interests

 

Members considered whether to revise the details of interests which were registerable under the Code of Conduct – in particular whether the interests of other family members, such as siblings or children, should be declared. The Committee decided that the Rules should remain as they were. 

 

(4) Significant Interests

 

Members considered whether to treat significant interests in the same way as disclosable pecuniary interests. It was noted that there was no legal requirement to do this, and that such a move would be likely to mean an increase in requests for dispensations. The Committee decided to make no change.

 

(5) Independent Persons

 

Members were asked whether it was necessary to undertake a new recruitment process for the appointment of Independent Persons to support the standards system. Members concluded that given the level of standards complaints this was not necessary.

 

The Committee noted that no meetings had been called for several  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD17105

 

At its meeting on 21st June 2017, the Audit Sub-Committee considered and approved the Annual Governance Statement which would form a part of the Council’s statutory accounts for the financial year 2016/17. The report to the Audit Sub-Committee, including the Annual Governance Statement (but excluding appendices on other matters) and the draft minutes of the Audit Sub-Committee’s meeting were circulated to seek the comments of the Standards Committee.

It was confirmed that there were separate disaster recovery plans in place, and that Internal Audit reports could be referred to PDS Committees. Members noted that key role of Internal Audit in identifying governance issues, and expressed concern that only 80% of the 2016/17 audit plan had been completed, against a target of 90%. This was primarily a matter for the Audit Sub-Committee, but it was suggested that the Committee could invite the new Head of Audit to attend their proposed meeting later in the year.

RESOLVED that the draft Annual Governance Statement 2016/17 be noted.

8.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS SUBSEQUENTLY AMENDED

The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of confidential information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business referred to below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

 

The following summary

refers to matters

involving exempt information

 

9.

APPENDIX TO ITEM 6: COMPLAINTS AGAINST COUNCILLORS

Minutes:

The Committee considered a part 2 appendix to the report on the Code of Conduct, which summarised the complaints received against Councillors since the local elections in 2014. There had been relatively few complaints received by the Monitoring Officer, and none that had passed the threshold for investigation, so there had not been a need to consult the Independent Persons.

 

Members suggested that it would be appropriate for Standards Committee Members, including the Independent Persons, to be circulated with information about complaints when they were received.

 

 

Original Text: