Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Review Sub Committee Minutes

Date:
Wednesday, 28th January, 2009
Time:
3.00 p.m
Place:
Ground Floor Conference Room, Municipal Buildings, Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1LD
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Mr F Hayes (Independent Chair), Councillor P Baker (Elected Member) and Mr T Bowman (Parish Representative).
Officers:
Mrs J Douglas (LD) & Mr A Squires (LD)
In Attendance:
None.
Apologies for absence:
None.
Item Description Decision
Public
RSC
3/08
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST.
None.
Confidential
RSC
4/08
SBC 10 - CODE OF CONDUCT COMPLAINT
RESOLVED that there was no apparent breach of paragraphs 3 (1), 3 (2) (b), 3 (2) (c) and 6 of the code of conduct.

Preamble

ItemPreamble
RSC
4/08
The Legal Officer (Mrs J Douglas) provided the Review Sub-Committee with an oral summary of the complaint and advice concerning the application of the Code, following the Complainant's request for a review of his complaint.

The complaint concerned allegations that a Town Councillor had made ‘disparaging and offensive remarks' about the Complainant to a third party and it was considered by the Complainant that such remarks were made to discredit himself and a third party prior to a Town Council by-election.

In support of his complaint the Complainant provided a series of emails allegedly between the Councillor and a third party and made particular reference to a section from an email sent by the Councillor. This section appears to imply that the Complainant is conducting an extra marital affair with the third party.

The Complainant states that the Councillor's behaviour possibly breaches the Code of Conduct, in that he has used his position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for himself or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage. In addition the Complainant states that the Councillor's behaviour is in breach of the Code with regards to the paragraphs that deal with treating others with respect, bullying and intimidation.

It is therefore alleged that the Councillor's conduct resulted in potential breaches of paragraphs 3 (1), 3 (2) (b), 3 (2) (c) and 6 of the code of conduct.

The main issue determined by the Assessment Sub-Committee (Initial Assessment) was whether the Code of Conduct applied since it was not clear if the Councillor had acted in his official capacity at the time of the alleged remarks. The Assessment Sub-Committee agreed that there was insufficient information to establish that the Councillor was acting in an official capacity or was conducting the business of the Town Council. Therefore it was unlikely that the complaint, if proven, would in fact be a breach of the Code.

The Assessment Sub-Committee confirmed that no action was required and reasons were given in its decision notice.

On the 04 January 2009, a letter requesting a review of this decision was received from the Complainant.

The Review Sub-Committee (Review) resolved to uphold the decision of the Assessment Sub-Committee (Initial Assessment) not to take any action on the complaint.

The Review Sub-Committee considered and discussed the information available to the Assessment Sub-Committee and agreed that their decision was reasonable, as there was insufficient information available to establish that the Councillor had been acting in an official capacity or conducting the business of the Town Council.

The Review Sub-Committee agreed that the information available appeared to be personal correspondence and that it was unlikely that the complaint, if proven, would be a breach of the Code due to it being a private matter.

Having considered the information provided by the Complainant, the Review Sub-Committee agreed that there was nothing additional that indicated the alleged conduct was done in an official capacity or whilst conducting the business of the Town Council, which might have altered the decision of the Assessment Sub-Committee.

In response to the Complainant's reasons for a review request, the Review Sub-Committee agreed that the Assessment Sub-Committee's references in their decision notice to email addresses and whether use had been made of Town Council equipment or facilities, were a proper part of the consideration whether the Councillor made the alleged remarks in an official capacity and their conclusion that there was insufficient information to establish that he was so acting.

Further, the determination by the Assessment Sub Committee that the Councillor's initial response was complimentary of the Complainant was considered by the Review Sub-Committee to be that the complainant's experience will be missed.

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