Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Sub Committee - Thursday, 7th November, 2019 6.00 pm

Public access to this meeting is available via between the hours of 6.15pm – 6.30pm via the main door of the Municipal Buildings on West Street, Boston

Venue: Committee Room, Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston

Contact: Lorraine Bush, Democratic Services Manager  Tel. no: 01205 314224 e-mail  lorraine.bush@boston.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

8.

APOLOGIES

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

No apologies for absence were received.

 

9.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 1 August 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 1st August 2019 were received by the Sub-Committee, agreed and signed by the Chairman.

10.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

To receive declarations of interests in respect of any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

 

11.

REVIEW OF THE MEMBER CODE OF CONDUCT pdf icon PDF 132 KB

(A report by the Monitoring Officer, Michelle Sacks)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer introduced a report that presented proposed revisions to the Council’s Member Code of Conduct in order to ensure its robustness and promotion of the high standards of behaviour expected of Members of the Council.

 

At the last meeting, the Sub-Committee considered the Review of Local Government Ethical Standards by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which recommended best practice in respect of Member Codes of Conduct.  The Sub-Committee agreed to defer consideration of the revised Code to this meeting and take into account action points 1 and 2 from the Best Practice Recommendations from the Ethical Standards Review, namely:

 

Action Point 1 - Local authorities should include prohibitions on bullying and harassment in codes of conduct.  These should include a definition of bullying and harassment, supplemented with a list of examples of the sort of behaviour covered by such a definition.

 

Action Point 2 – Councils should include provisions in their code requiring councillors to comply with any formal standards investigation, and prohibiting trivial or malicious allegations by councillors.

           

These elements had been added to the proposed revised code and shown in red text.

 

Also, the recent Peer Review Feedback report, attached at Appendix 2, contained recommendations in respect of organisational leadership and governance, explicitly referencing the need to adopt a refreshed Member Code of Conduct as a matter of priority.  Specifically, it stated that “Frontline Councillors should be supported not only in their community leadership positions but also to act as ambassadors for the authority and wider borough.  Currently Councillors’ role in portraying a positive image of the Council and place does not appear to be fully understood (e.g. social media behaviour).  The Member Code of Conduct is an important tool in promoting this understanding.  Agreeing and adopting a refreshed Member Code of Conduct should be progressed as a matter of priority.”

 

This feedback had been addressed through amendments to the proposed revised code and highlighted in yellow.  In particular, the Monitoring Officer directed attention to the section that provided greater clarity on the use of social media, which was an excellent tool for improving the accessibility and relevance of the Councillor’s role, but had become a higher risk area, especially in terms of comments made by others to Members’ posts.  Also, sections had been added clarifying the meaning of “disrepute” and relating to confidential information and data protection in the light of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). 

 

The Monitoring Officer recommended that the revised Member Code of Conduct, as set out in Appendix 1, be referred to full Council for adoption.

 

The Monitoring Officer added that the parish councils were waiting for the Council to adopt a revised Code of Conduct in order to proceed with its adoption themselves, which would provide consistency.

 

During debate, the Committee’s comments included:

 

·         Concern that bullying and intimidation in parish councils was a common problem, but it was a subjective situation. 

·         The code needed to be balanced in terms of not being overly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.