Standards and the Localism Act 2011
(1) New Standards Committee 1.1 That the Council establishes a new Standards Committee consisting of 9 Members of the Council and to which proportionality shall apply. 1.2 That Leigh-on-Sea Town Council be invited to nominate 2 Town Councillors to be co-opted as non-voting Members on the Standards Committee. 1.3 That the Independent Persons (see 4 below) be invited to attend Standards Committee meetings, but without voting rights. 1.4 That the Terms of Reference of the Standards Committee to be as set out in Appendix 1 of the submitted report and Article 9 of Part 2 and Section 7 of Part 3 Schedule 2 of the Constitution be amended accordingly. In addition necessary consequential amendments be made to the Constitution, particularly to references in Parts 5(b), 5(d) and 5(h). (2) New Code of Conduct That the Council adopts a new Code of Conduct in the form set out in Appendix 3 of the submitted report. (3) Dealing with Misconduct Complaints 3.1 That the Monitoring Officer be appointed as the Proper Officer to receive complaints for failure to comply with the Code of Conduct. 3.2 That the Monitoring Officer be given delegated power, after consultation with the Independent Person, to determine whether a complaint merits formal investigation and to arrange such investigation. The Monitoring Officer be instructed to seek resolution of complaints without formal investigation wherever practicable, and that he be given discretion to refer decisions on investigation to the Standards Committee where he feels that it is inappropriate for him to take the decision, and to report to the Standards Committee on the discharge of this function from time to time. 3.3 That where the investigation finds no evidence of a failure to comply with the Code of Conduct, the Monitoring Officer be instructed to close the matter, providing a copy of the report and findings of the investigation go to the complainant and to the Member concerned and to the Independent Person, and reporting the findings to the Standards Committee for information. 3.4 That where the investigation finds evidence of a failure to comply with the Code of Conduct, the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Independent Person be authorised to seek a resolution in appropriate cases, with a summary report for information to the Standards Committee. Where such resolution is not appropriate or not possible, the Monitoring Officer is to report the investigation findings to the Hearings Sub-Committee of the Standards Committee for a hearing. 3.5 That the Council delegates to the Standards Hearing Sub-Committee such of its powers as can be delegated to take decisions in respect of a Member who is found on hearing to have failed to comply with the Code of Conduct. 3.6 That the Council: (a) adopts the new Complaints against Members Rules as set out in Appendix 4 of the submitted report to replace the existing Rules in Part 4(i) of the Constitution subject to the deletion of paragraph 1.3 in Annex E of Appendix 4 and a consequential amendment to the terms of reference of the Hearings Sub-Committee in Appendix 1 by adding the words "and its Chairman" after "Sub-Committee" in paragraph 7.6; and (b) that the delegations to the Monitoring Officer in Part 3 Schedule 3 to the Constitution be amended as per Appendix 5 of the submitted report with the addition of the following bullet point "To appoint members of the Hearings Sub-Committee and its Chairman after consultation with the Chairman of the Standards Committee". (4) Independent Person(s) 4.1 That the 3 independent members on the old Standards Committee be appointed as Independent Persons for an initial period of 12 months. 4.2 That the Independent Persons continue to receive the allowances which they currently receive as an independent member and that such payments be reviewed in due course by the Standards Committee. (5) Registering and Disclosing Interests and Withdrawal 5.1 That the arrangements for registering and declaring interests as set out above be agreed and that the Monitoring Officer maintains a Register of Members' Interests for Southend Councillors and Leigh-on-Sea Town Council and ensures these are available for inspection as required. The delegations be amended to reflect these obligations as per Appendix 5 of the submitted report. 5.2 That the Monitoring Officer ensures that all Members are informed of their duty to register interests by 19th August 2012 and that the template at Appendix 6 of the submitted be agreed for this purpose. 5.3 That Standing Order 20 be amended as per Appendix 7 of the submitted report to require a Member to withdraw from the room where the meeting is being held including from the public gallery, during the whole of consideration of any item of business in which he / she has a DPI or other pecuniary interest or specified non-pecuniary interest (except where the Member is permitted to remain as a result of the grant of a dispensation). (6) Dispensations That the following dispensations be granted to permit a Member to participate in debate on a matter and to vote in the following circumstances notwithstanding the fact that he/she may have a DPI, other pecuniary interest of non-pecuniary interest; (i) where the matter relates to the housing functions of the Council and the Member is a tenant of the Council (provided that the matter does not relate particularly to the Member's tenancy or lease) (ii) school meals or school transport and travelling expenses, where the Member is a parent or guardian of a child in full time education, or are a parent governor of a school, unless it relates particularly to the school which the child attends (iii)an allowance, payment or indemnity given to Members (iv)any ceremonial honour given to Members (v)setting Council Tax or a precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (vi)where an Executive Councillor attends a meeting of a Scrutiny Committee in respect of executive matters, including call-in and pre-Cabinet Scrutiny items. (7) That the Monitoring Officer should arrange training on the new Code for all Members. (8) That the Council places on record its appreciation of all the work undertaken by the 3 independent members under the old regime. Reason for Decision A new standards regime needs to be introduced to comply with the law. Other Options The adoption of a different regime and the areas of discretion were outlined in the submitted report.