Agenda and minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Graham Walton  020 84617743

Items
No. Item

20.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

21.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no additional declarations of interest.

22.

QUESTIONS

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions that are not specific to reports on the agenda must have been received in writing 10 working days before the date of the meeting. 

 

Questions specifically on reports on the agenda should be received within two working days of the normal publication date of the agenda.  Please ensure that questions specifically on reports on the agenda are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Friday 25th October 2019.

Minutes:

The following question for oral response had been received from Mr Ben McGowan:

 

Are councillors expected to uphold, support and comply with Bromley Council’s Equal Opportunity Policy Statement when carrying out their duties including during council meetings?

 

Reply:

 

Yes, Councillors do have to have regard for the Council’s equalities duties.  In saying that, Councillors are also afforded considerable flexibility to exercise their right to freedom of political speech and judges recognise this as one of the most protected rights.  Councillors also, in part, have a duty to represent the varied and diverse views of their residents.

 

Supplementary Question:

 

Does the Chair therefore believe that Cllr Tickner’s comments at the October Full Council meeting, describing being LGBT+ as a "lifestyle" and "trend", and suggesting that LGBT+ inclusive RSE is encouraging children to become LGBT, are aligned with the Council’s equal opportunity statement, due to the homophobia in his comments?

 

Reply:

 

As Chairman of the Standards Committee it would not be appropriate for me to comment in case this matter comes more formally to this Committee.  However, it is worth noting that in considering their judgments, judges have sought to protect freedom of political speech.

 

23.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 9TH JULY 2019 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Minutes:

In relation to Minute 17(F), a Member noted that the Committee had not unanimously accepted the reasons provided by the Monitoring Officer concerning why substitution was not allowed on the Committee.  It was agreed that the minutes should be amended to reflect this.

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 9th July 2019, were agreed and signed as an accurate record, subject to the amendment above.

 

 

24.

DISCUSSION WITH THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE

The Council’s Chief Executive, Ade Adetosoye OBE, will be present at the meeting.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive, Ade Adetosoye, addressed the Committee, noting that the Council’s Constitution outlined a requirement for the Chief Executive, as statutory Head of Paid Service, to have overall responsibility for all staffing matters.  This necessitated that a good working relationship was developed with the Standards Committee to ensure a high standard of conduct and governance across the organisation through the scrutiny, challenge and support provided by the Standards Committee.

 

The Chief Executive emphasised that high ethical standards were a cornerstone of good governance in local government, helping to enhance the external reputation of the Council and strengthen its relationships with residents, service users, partners and the voluntary and community sector.  High ethical standards supported Members and Officers alike in building trust and confidence  and in discharging their duties in a safe, fair and transparent manner.  At a staffing level, they had a positive impact on organisational culture, productivity and employee satisfaction.

 

In terms of the mechanisms in place for ensuring that there were high ethical standards in place for governance arrangements, the Chief Executive pointed towards the checks and balances that had been built into the decision making process: the Council’s Constitution, Scheme of Delegation and legislative provisions.  In addition the vast majority of Executive decisions received pre-decision scrutiny and there was the added safeguard of the right of non-executive members to ‘call-in’ executive decisions once they had been taken.  In addition to the checks and balances within the decision making process, further assurances should be provided by: the Annual Governance Statement;  the CIPFA Code of Corporate Guidance which had been adopted by the Council; Regular monitoring of the Corporate Risk Register and corporate audit activity by the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT); Quarterly departmental performance monitoring and benchmarking by CLT; Quarterly monitoring of complaints and compliments by CLT; and Regulatory inspections and sector led improvement and peer challenge.

 

The Chief Executive emphasised that it was important to ensure that Members and officers understood the high standards of conduct expected within the Council and reflected the required behaviours and values in their working relationships with each other, with service users and residents, as well as partners and the wider voluntary and community sector.  The Chief Executive reported that he had been reassured by the high standards of behaviour and professional conduct, challenge and support between Officers and Members that he had seen since his appointment in December 2018.  In addition a comprehensive Member induction training offer was provided to members; there was also a Member/Officer protocol in place which outlined key principles to enable Members and officers to work well together and show respect for each other’s respective roles and responsibilities.  The Members’ Code of Conduct would be revised to reflect the best practice recommendations outlined in the Local Government Ethical Standards Report with the Standards Committee being asked to make a recommendation to Council.

 

In concluding his presentation, the Chief Executive outlined the two key challenges going forward:

 

1. Considering the support that Officers could provide to Members to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

CODE OF CONDUCT: CONSIDERATION OF BEST PRACTICE FROM COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS IN PUBLIC LIFE pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CDS19160

 

The Committee considered an update on the work that had been carried out to review the Council’s Code of Conduct since publication of the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

 

The Committee suggested that each paragraph within the revised Code of Conduct should be numbered and that technical terms and abbreviations should be defined.  It was agreed that the second substantive paragraph should be amended to read – “You must act solely in the public interest and must never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage…”

 

In respect of the definition of bullying and harassment, the Committee suggested that the following change be made to paragraph 1.2 – “Harassment, bullying…are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”  A Member also suggested that in considering complaints of bullying and harassment great weight should  be placed on the impact of conduct on others and how the subject of the alleged bullying and harassment perceived the behaviour.

 

In respect of the additional requirements around confidentiality, a Member suggested that there should be additional guidance around GDPR and the safeguarding and secure disposal of confidential papers received by Members.  The need for Members to fully understand their duties around GDPR compliant storage and disposal of sensitive data was highlighted.  It was agreed that the Head of Information Management should be invited to the next meeting to discuss key issues around information governance with the Committee.  The Chairman also requested that an update on Members’ responsibly to ensure the security of  any data held on portable electronic devises was also provided at the next meeting.

 

The Monitoring Officer confirmed that following the appointment of another Independent Person, in the interests of transparency, the outcome of the first stage of complaints would be sent to the Independent Person for review.  Members noted that, in the event of disagreement between the Monitoring Officer and the Independent Person, the final decision would sit with the Monitoring Officer.  It was noted that the Monitoring Officer was required to consult with the Independent Person before referring a complaint to the Standards Committee.  A Member suggested that for clarity references in the Code of Conduct to “formal standards investigations” should be removed.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

  1. The report be noted;

 

  1. Full Council be recommended to approve the updated Code of Conduct, subject to the amendments outlined above and standards committee members consulting with group colleagues; and

 

  1. The Public Interest Test be endorsed.

 

 

26.

MONITORING OFFICER'S GENERAL REPORT pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CDS19158

 

The Committee received a report from the Monitoring Officer setting out a number of issues for consideration.

 

(A)  Standards Commission for Scotland Case

 

The Committee noted that the Sheriff Principal in Scotland had recently found in favour of the Standards Commission for Scotland in a case providing that when acting in a quasi-judicial capacity the enhanced protection afforded politicians to make political comment, under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), is less likely to be engaged.  Whilst not binding on the English legal system the case may influence the approach taken in England.  The message to be taken from this case was that there was arguably a difference between freedom to make political comment in a Council debate and what could be said when sitting in a quasi-judicial capacity.

 

(B)  Committee for Standards in Public Life – Intimidation in Public Office

 

The Committee noted the report published by the Committee for Standards in Public Life concerning Intimidation in Public Life.

 

(C)  Dispensations Granted

 

The Committee noted that no dispensations had been granted since the last meeting on 9th July 2019.

 

(D)  Gifts and Hospitality Register

 

The report set out declarations of gifts and hospitality received since the last meeting (Appendix 2 to the report).

 

(E)  Register of Interests

 

The Register of Interest was available for inspection.

 

(F)  Code of Governance 2018/19

 

The final Code of Corporate Governance 2018/19 was noted by the Committee (Appendix 4 to the report).

 

(G)  Work Programme and Matters Outstanding from Previous Meetings

 

The Committee considered its work programme for future meetings.

 

(H)  Independent Persons

 

Two applications were received and were considered in Part 2 of the Agenda.  It was agreed that an interview panel comprising the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and the current Independent Person and supported by the Monitoring Officer be established to interview the candidates and make a recommendation to the next Full Council meeting on the appointment of one or more Independent Persons for a suggested term of five years.  It was agreed that, if suitable, both candidates could be appointed.

 

The Committee agreed that the term of office of the current Independent Person should be extended to 2022.  This would enable the current Independent Person to mentor and guide any newly appointed Independent Person.

 

(I)  Complaints

 

The Committee received a summary of recent complaints made against councillors.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

27.

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 summaries

refer to matters involving exempt information

 

28.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 9TH JULY 2019

Minutes:

The exempt minutes from the meeting held on 9th July 2019, were agreed and signed as a correct record.

29.

MONITORING OFFICER'S GENERAL REPORT - PART 2 APPENDICES

Minutes:

The Committee considered part 2 appendices containing details of the applications for the position of Independent Person and complaints received against individual councillors since the last meeting on 9th July 2019.

 

Original Text: