Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting

Contact: Committee Administration 01905 722027, 722005, 722085 

Items
No. Item

12.

Appointment of Substitutes

Minutes:

None.

13.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

None.

14.

Public Participation

Up to a total of fifteen minutes can be allowed, each speaker being allocated a maximum of five minutes, for members of the public to present a petition, ask a question, or comment on any matter on the Agenda or within the remit of the Committee.

Minutes:

None.

15.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Of the meeting held on 11th July 2020 to be approved and signed.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 11th July 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

16.

Ethical Standards - Update Report pdf icon PDF 193 KB

That the Committee:

 

1.   Notes the contents of this report; and

 

2.   Authorises the Monitoring Officer to submit the response at Appendix 1 to the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received an update report from the Monitoring Officer.

 

Since the last meeting, the Monitoring Officer submitted a response to the Local Government Association’s consultation on a revised Model Code of Conduct, in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair. Whilst the outcome of the consultation was not yet known, it was understood that the LGA intended to prepare a final Code for submission to the LGA board from approval on 3 December 2020. The approved Code would then be published.

 

The Council was contacted on 2 October 2020 by Lord Jonathan Evans, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, seeking a progress update from all councils in response to the Best Practice Recommendations published in January 2019. A proposed response was appended to the Committee report. The Monitoring Officer highlighted that, as a consequence of its work last year to review the pan-Worcestershire Code and Best Practice Recommendations, the Council was able to report that each recommendation was already adopted or has now been implemented.

 

It was proposed to arrange an online training seminar for the end of January 2021, when the outcome of the LGA’s review of the Code of Conduct should be clearer. An invitation for this training would be extended to all City Councillors and Parish Councillors and clerks, as well as Designated Independent Persons who support the City Council.

 

In the ensuing discussion, the following main points were made:

 

·         Whilst it is recommended that separate bodies created by local authorities should abide by the Nolan principle of openness, this is primarily aimed at those making significant investment decisions affecting the city. The Monitoring Officer offered to draft a simple document for representatives on outside bodies, summarising the Nolan Principles, although this should not become burdensome to small community organisations.

 

·         The Monitoring Officer will finalise the scope of training event with chair and vice-chair. Group Leaders will be asked to encourage all their Members to attend.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

 

1.    Notes the contents of this report; and

 

2.    Authorises the Monitoring Officer to submit to the Committee on Standards in Public Life the response at Appendix 1 to the report.

17.

Local Government And Social Care Ombudsman Annual Review Letter 2020 pdf icon PDF 351 KB

That the Committee consider the Annual Review Letter (Appendix 1) of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) for the period covering 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020 for information and comment.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered Annual Review Letter of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) for the period covering 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020. The Monitoring Officer summarised the main findings. It was noted that the number of cases where an investigation was carried out by the Ombudsman had decreased from 7 in 2018/19 to 5 in 2019/20, however of the investigations carried out, 100% were subsequently upheld.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee agree to note the Annual Review Letter of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for the period covering 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020 for information and comment.

 

18.

Reports of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman pdf icon PDF 188 KB

That the Committee note any complaints which have received a report, an upheld decision or where maladministration has been identified by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Monitoring Officer on complaints which have received a report, an upheld decision or where maladministration has been identified by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that one upheld decision had been received from since the previous report to this Committee in July 2020. The decision statement must be published by the Ombudsman on their website no earlier than three months after the decision date. As that period had not yet been completed, further details were set out in the exempt item on the agenda.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

 

19.

Complaints Made Under the Members' Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 189 KB

That the Committee note the report.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Monitoring Officer on complaints made under the Members’ Code of Conduct. The Monitoring Officer advised that, since the last meeting of the Committee in July 2020, 3 complaints had been received. 3 other complaints, received earlier in the year, had now been closed. At the present time, therefore, no complaints remained under assessment or outstanding.

 

Before making a decision in relation to each complaint, the Monitoring Officer consulted with one of the Independent Persons from the pool appointed to consider complaints. In respect of Complaints 1&2, additional advice was sought from an independent expert to inform the assessment stage of the complaints.

 

The findings were in summary as follows:

 

Complaints received in the previous period:

 

·         Complaint 1&2 (linked): informal resolution (the Monitoring corrected the reference to “no action” in her report)

·         Complaint 3: informal resolution

 

Complaints received since July:

 

·         Complaint 4: no action

·         Complaint 5: no action

·         Complaint 6: informal resolution

         

In addition to the above, the Monitoring Officer had given advice to Councillors on two separate matters which were referred for consideration. Both would have been matters for informal resolution had they been referred as formal complaints.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

20.

Outside Bodies - Reports from Representatives pdf icon PDF 199 KB

That the Committee note the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the last meeting, Members had asked for a comprehensive report to be presented at the November meeting on reports received for 2019/20.

 

The Monitoring Officer reported that approximately 95% of reports due had now been received. A full checklist had been circulated to Committee members. The reports were available to Members via the “Councillor Access” pages of the Council website.

 

It was highlighted that, in a number of instances, representatives have reported that they have had no contact from the body over the previous 12 months, and therefore it has not been possible to complete a report proforma. In these instances, Officers will undertake follow-up work to establish the current status of the organisation and whether the Council’s appointment needs to be reviewed. Meanwhile, in a few instances, it appeared that there had been no communication from the body in question. Officers will seek to establish the reasons for this.

 

In terms of emerging themes from these reports, many of the bodies are community organisations or small charitable organisations. The reports demonstrate how local citizens volunteer and work to support each other, and the wide range of community activities that are taking place locally. Funding and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic featured in a number of the reports.

 

In the ensuing discussion, the following main points were made:

 

·         The Monitoring Officer explained that the feedback will be useful in refreshing the City Plan, and for helping Group Leaders to establish the purpose and value to the Council of having representatives on each of the bodies.

 

·         The Monitoring Officer also suggested that there may be value in aligning the outside bodies to the policy Committees and providing them with an overview of the reports relevant to that Committee.

 

·         The Monitoring Officer will be preparing an “Outside Bodies Toolkit” – this matter has been raised by the Audit and Governance Committee.

 

·         Members highlighted the value of this exercise in gaining a greater understanding of the links between the Council and the voluntary sector and asked if Officers could consider how to recognise, reward and promote the work of community organisations.

 

·         The content of the feedback form should be reviewed – it was suggested that there could be questions about the value in sitting on body, any good practice ideas, and any confidential issues, which should be reported separately.

 

In conclusion, the Monitoring Officer stated that she will compile the various suggestions made in the discussion and prepare a report to Policy and Resources Committee.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

21.

Any Other Business

Which in the opinion of the Chairman is of sufficient urgency as to warrant consideration.

Minutes:

None.

22.

Items Involving the Disclosure of Exempt Information

The Committee is invited to pass the following resolution:

 

That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of information as defined in Schedule 12A of the said Act.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of information as defined in Schedule 12A of the said Act.

23.

Report of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

To advise the Committee of an upheld complaint by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Minutes:

With reference to minute 18, the Committee were advised by the Monitoring Officer of an upheld complaint by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.