Your Councillors


Audit, Governance & Standards Committee

19 March 2018

 

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

Christine Nuttall – Senior Corporate Governance Lawyer (Locum) of Legal Partnership

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 November 2017 to 28th February 2018.  The Committee is asked to note the contents of the report.

 

 

This report makes the following recommendations to this Committee:

1.   The Committee is asked to note the contents of the report.

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Audit, Governance & Standards Committee

19 March 2018



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 adopted in May 2015 (and is unchanged from the previous Code of Conduct).

 

1.2     The Localism Act 2011 requirement to adopt a Code of Conduct also applied to all the Parish Councils. Consequently, all the Parish Councils in the Maidstone area adopted their own Codes of Conduct with the majority adopting the Borough Council’s Code of Conduct.

 

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 would fall under the terms of reference 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  It should be noted that the Localism Act 2011 repealed the requirement to publish decision notices; therefore in providing the update to the Committee the names of the complainant and the Councillor complained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 1998.

 

1.6     Since the last report to this Committee on 20th November 2017 there have been no new complaints, although two complaints on the 20th November were still awaiting initial assessment.  The final decision in relation to those two complaints was as follows:

 

Borough Council Complaint

 

Date Received                   Date of Final Decision     Decision

21/08/2017            19/12/2017                    No breach of the Code of

                                                                     Conduct

 

Parish Council Complaint

 

Date Received                   Date of Final Decision     Decision

28/10/2017            13/12/2017                    No breach of the Code of

                                                                     Conduct  

 

1.7     The Constitution provides for a Hearings Sub-Committee to meet to consider any complaint which remains valid after investigation and consideration by the Monitoring Officer in consultation (as required) with the Independent Person.  To date the Hearings Sub-Committee has not yet been required to meet.

 

 

2.        AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

2.1     The Committee could decide that they no longer wish to receive the updates on complaints under the Code of Conduct.  This is not recommended as it is part of the Committee’s general oversight function.

 

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

 

 

3.        PREFERRED OPTION AND REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

3.1     Option 2.2 that the Committee note the update on complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct is recommended as it is essential that the Committee continue to oversee the complaints received.

 

 

4.       RISK

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

 

5.       CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

5.1     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.

 

 

6.       NEXT STEPS: COMMUNICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECISION

 

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

 

 

 

7.       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 and the Code of Conduct and complaints procedure supports this.

Head of Legal Partnership

Risk Management

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

Head of Legal Partnership

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.

Head of Legal Partnership

Staffing

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

Head of Legal Partnership

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.

Head of Legal Partnership

Privacy and Data Protection

No personal information is provided as part of the report.

Head of Legal Partnership

Equalities

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

Head of Legal Partnership

Crime and Disorder

None identified in the report.

Head of Legal Partnership

Procurement

None identified in the report.

Head of Legal Partnership

 

8.        REPORT APPENDICES

None

 

 

9.        BACKGROUND PAPERS  - None

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