(Special), Standards Committee
Wednesday 9 May 2012 7.30 pm
Venue: Committee Room 6, Harrow Civic Centre. View directions
Contact: Vishal Seegoolam, Senior Democratic Services Officer Tel: 020 8424 1883 E-mail: email@example.com
Attendance by Reserve Members
To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.
Reserve Members may attend meetings:-
(i) to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;
(ii) where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and
(iii) the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;
(iv) if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.
RESOLVED: To note the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Member:-
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of personal or prejudicial interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:
(a) all Members of the Committee;
(b) all other Members present in any part of the room.
RESOLVED: To note that there were no declarations of interests made by Members.
To receive deputations (if any) under the provisions of Committee Procedure Rule 16 (Part 4B) of the Constitution.
The Chairman reported that the Supplemental Agenda for the meeting had only been published after the deadline for deputations had passed. The Chairman had been advised that Mrs Eileen Kinnear had wished to submit a deputation, but in the absence of the Supplemental Agenda, had been unable to do so. He therefore proposed that in the interests of fairness, Mrs Kinnear be allowed to make a deputation at the meeting for 5 minutes at the outset of the item.
RESOLVED: That Committee Procedure Rule 16 be suspended for agenda item 4 – The Future of a Standards Regime at the London Borough of Harrow, to allow a speaker to address the Committee for a period of two minutes.
The Future of a Standards Regime at the London Borough of Harrow
Report of the Director of Legal and Governance Services.
The Committee received a report which set out options for the future of the Standards Regime in Harrow. Mrs Kinnear addressed the Committee and expressed her concerns that there had not been any public consultation on the process. It was her view that it was not necessary for the Committee to continue and was unsure as to its merits. Her view was that reputations had become damaged with the regime.
She commended the current Independent Members on the Committee and expressed her disappointment that they could not continue their role in the future. In her view keeping the current regime was also unlikely to save any money.
In response to the issues raised, Members of the Committee made the following points:
· the Localism Act was now legislation and had to be adhered to. Therefore reorganisation had to take place to meet its requirements;
· all Members were keen to retain the current Independent Members, however the legislation was clear;
· the Committee had considered that its first priority was to put in place a robust system which could be operational from July, and which should preserve continuity as far as possible. Once this was achieved, it was anticipated that there would be a project commenced which would look at the long term view of the Standards Regime, and involve consultation with the public, as well as learning from other authorities.
An officer addressed the Committee and explained that the Localism Act provided two minimum requirements for Standards Regimes. The first was a requirement to have a Code of Conduct in place. The second was the requirement to have a process in place for dealing with complaints. There was then a lot of discretion provided for local authorities.
The officer further reported the following:
· at the last meeting, the Committee had asked officers to engage with the two political groups on the Council and report back on the comments provided;
· the themes fed back to officers were that a filter should be in place regarding complaints which fell outside the scope of the Code of Conduct and which were vexatious. It was felt that there would be some type of consultation between the Monitoring Officer and Independent Person in this regard;
· there were still some queries on right of appeal within the process. One option could be to involve Independent Persons to recommend to the Monitoring Officer to revisit any decisions made if appropriate;
· there was a degree of consensus in that within the complaints process, the Member complained about be entitled to submit written representations either to the Monitoring Officer or initial Assessment stage;
· the meetings of any initial Assessment stage should be held in private. However any meetings dealing with the final hearing stage should be heard in public;
· it was envisaged that there would continue to be an initial assessment Committee. However there was the fact that any formal Committee had to have a Chair who was a Councillor. The only instance that the Independent Person could chair the ... view the full minutes text for item 77.