Your Councillors


Audit, Governance & Standards Committee

14 January 2019         

 

Complaints Received Under the Members’ Code of Conduct

 

Final Decision-Maker

Audit, Governance & Standards Committee

Lead Head of Service/Lead Director

Patricia Narebor – Head of Legal Partnership and Monitoring Officer

Lead Officer and Report Author

Estelle Culligan, Principal Solicitor – Contentious and Corporate Governance

Classification

Public

Wards affected

All

 

Executive Summary

The report provides an update to the Committee on complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct for the period 1st September 2018 to date. 

 

 

This report makes the following recommendations to this Committee:

1.   That the contents of the report be noted.

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Audit, Governance & Standards Committee

14 January 2019



Complaints Received Under the Members’ Code of Conduct

 

 

1.      INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

1.1     It is a requirement under the Localism Act 2011 that all Councils adopt a Code of Conduct and that the Code adopted must be based upon the Nolan Principles of Conduct in Public Life. The current Members’ Code of Conduct (“the Code”) for Maidstone Borough Council is set out in the Constitution.

 

1.2     The Localism Act 2011 requirement to adopt a Code of Conduct also applied to all the Parish Councils. Most Parish Councils in the Maidstone area have adopted a similar Code of Conduct to the Borough Council, based on a Kent wide model. A few Parish Councils have adopted their own particular Code.

 

1.3     Under the Localism Act 2011 Maidstone Borough Council is responsible for dealing with any complaints made under the various Codes of Conduct throughout the Maidstone area.

 

1.4     The Constitution stipulates that oversight of Code of Conduct complaints is part of the remit of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee.

 

1.5     As part of the Committee’s oversight function it is agreed that the Monitoring Officer will provide reports on complaints to the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee.  It should be noted that the Localism Act 2011 repealed the requirement to publish decision notices; therefore in providing the update to the Committee the names of the complainant and the Councillor complained about are both kept confidential in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.

 

1.6     Since the last report to this Committee on 17 September 2018 there have been three new complaints from one complainant against three Parish Councillors, relating to similar issues. These complaints have been concluded and the Monitoring Officer found that there was no evidence of breaches of the Code of Conduct. There have also been three separate complaints against one Borough Councillor. Again, these complaints related to similar issues.  Of these complaints, only one was taken forward as the other two complainants did not respond to requests for further information. The investigation into the remaining complaint is still ongoing.

 

 

 

2.        AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

2.1     That the Committee note the update on complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct.

 

 

 

 

 

3.       RISK

3.1    This report is presented for information only and has no risk management implications.

 

4.       CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

4.1     Members of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee and the Independent Person in accordance with the relevant complaints procedure will be consulted with on individual complaints as and when necessary.

 

 

5.       NEXT STEPS: COMMUNICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECISION

 

5.1     As the report is for information only no further action will be taken.

 

 

 

6.       CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

High standards of conduct are essential amongst Members in delivering the Council’s priorities. The Code of Conduct and complaints procedure supports this.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Risk Management

This report is presented for information only and has no risk management implications. An effective Code of Conduct and robust complaints procedure minimises the risk of Member misconduct and is part of an effective system of governance.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Financial

There are no direct financial implications; however, should it be necessary to appoint external Independent Investigators the cost of this will be met by the Borough Council.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Staffing

The complaints procedure is dealt within the remit of the Monitoring Officer with input from the Legal Team as required.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Legal

The requirements of the Localism Act 2011 with regards to the Code of Conduct and complaints procedure are set out within the report.  The reporting process ensures that the Committee continues its oversight of the Code of Conduct as required by the Constitution.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Privacy and Data Protection

No personal information is provided as part of the report.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Equalities

Any potential to disadvantage or discriminate against different groups within the community should be overcome within the adopted complaints procedures.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Crime and Disorder

None identified in the report.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

Procurement

None identified in the report.

Principal Solicitor, Contentious and Corporate Governance

 

7.        REPORT APPENDICES

None