Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester, WR5 2NP

Contact: Simon Lewis  Committee Officer

No. Item

Available papers

The members had before them:


A.    The Agenda papers (previously circulated); and


B.    The Minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2017 (previously circulated).


Apologies and Named Substitutes (Agenda item 1)


An apology was received from Ms P A Hill.


The Committee wished to send their best wishes to Ms P A Hill for a speedy recovery.


Declarations of Interest (Agenda item 2)




Public Participation (Agenda item 3)

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by e-mail indicating both the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 24 April 2018).  Enquiries about this can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address listed below.




Confirmation of Minutes (Agenda item 4)

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2017. (previously circulated – pink pages)


RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2017 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Local Government Ethical Standards - Stakeholder Consultation (Agenda item 5) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a consultation issued by the National Committee on Standards in Public Life to inform its review of local government ethical standards.


The consultation document posed a series of questions and the Committee discussed each one in turn as follows(with main member comments minuted and formal response as set out):


a.            Are the existing structures, processes and practices in place working to ensure high standards of conduct by local councillors? If not, please say why.

b.            What, if any, are the most significant gaps in the current ethical standards regime for local government?


·         The mediation aspect of the local process worked very well and the Monitoring Officer should be congratulated for his role in this respect

·         The only concern for some members was the lack of sanction available for a breach of the Code of Conduct

·         The existing local Code of Conduct arrangements worked satisfactorily and others considered there was no need for further sanctions

·         It was particularly important that the anonymity of the councillor, who was the subject of the complaint, should be maintained until a breach was found.



The existing local Code of Conduct has worked well since its introduction to ensure high standards of conduct by Worcestershire county councillors. To date no complaints have been sufficiently strong to warrant a formal finding of a breach of the Code.   Possible gaps in the regime are addressed below.


Codes of conduct


c.            Are local authority adopted codes of conduct for councillors clear and easily understood? Do the codes cover an appropriate range of behaviours? What examples of good practice, including induction processes, exist?

d.            A local authority has a statutory duty to ensure that its adopted code of conduct for councillors is consistent with the Seven Principles of Public Life and that it includes appropriate provision (as decided by the local authority) for registering and declaring councillors’ interests. Are these requirements appropriate as they stand? If not, please say why.


·         The 'pan-Worcestershire' approach to a single Code was to be commended for promoting consiste consistency and reducing confusion consistency and reducing confusion

·         Induction was good and real-life examples were useful.

·         Parish councils had particular difficulty in interpreting the legislation for the  registration and declaration of councillors’ interests

·         The current arrangements lacked the clarity of the previous Code of Conduct in terms of the need to register an interest. This was a particular problem where a request for funding was made through the Member Divisional Fund. In response, the Head of Legal and Democratic Services highlighted the difference between registering an interest (DPIs) and declaring an interest at a meeting which was relevant to the debate. The Code covered both aspects.  He emphasised that the current arrangements relied on member disclosure and it was the responsibility of the individual councillor to declare an interest at the appropriate time including any requests made through the Divisional Fund procedure

·         What responsibility did a councillor have to declare his or her Freemason membership? The Head of Legal and Democratic  ...  view the full minutes text for item 264.


Code of Conduct - Complaints Update (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 68 KB


The Committee received a Code of Conduct and complaints update from the Head of Legal and Democratic Services.


In the ensuing debate and in reference to Complaint 01/18, it was commented that meetings of full Council should be the forum for debate and discussion and there was no need to resort to offensive behaviour. Clearly where comments were untrue, the Code would be engaged. However if the remarks made were accurate, referred to issues already in the public domain and the Chairman of the Council had not taken action at the time, it was difficult to understand how the Code could be engaged.


RESOLVED that the outcomes of the recent formal complaints about the conduct of members be noted.