Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Standards Committee Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 17th November, 2011
Time:
4.00pm
Place:
Conference Room 2, Municipal Buildings, Stockton, TS18 1LD
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Mr F W Hayes (Chairman), Mr M Armstrong, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Robert Gibson (vice Councillor Paul Baker), Cllr Eileen Johnson (vice Councillor David Wilburn), Cllr Tracey Stott, Mr Tom Bowman (Parish Representative) and Mr Chris Nestor (Substitute Independent Member)
Officers:
D. Bond, A. Squires and M. Henderson (LD)
In Attendance:
None
Apologies for absence:
Councillor Paul Baker, Councillor David Wilburn, Mr C.V. Algie (Parish Representative)
Item Description Decision
Public
S
27/11
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations.
S
28/11
MINUTES FOR SIGNATURE - 23RD SEPTEMBER 2011
The minutes of the meeting held on 23 September 2011 were confirmed as a correct record and were signed by the Chairman.
S
29/11
ASSESSMENT SUB COMMITTEE MINUTES FOR THE MEETINGS HELD ON 1ST NOVEMBER 2011 AND 7TH NOVEMBER 2011.
RESOLVED that the minutes be noted.
S
30/11
THE NEW STANDARDS REGIME
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
S
31/11
MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS UPDATE
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
S
32/11
PREDISPOSITION, PREDETERMINATION AND BIAS
RESOLVED that the report be noted and the information contained in it be communicated to all Members and relevant Officers.
S
33/11
MESSAGES FROM THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE
RESOLVED that the information be noted.
S
34/11
LOCAL ASSESSMENT - CASE STUDIES
 
S
35/11
STANDARDS COMMITTEE FORWARD PLAN 2011/12
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
4.00pm - 5.00pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
S
29/11
Members received the Assessment Sub Committee minutes of the meetings held on 1 November and 7 November 2011.
S
30/11
Members were provided with a report that detailed the current position regarding the standards provisions in the Localism Bill.

The Committee noted headlines from the Government's proposals and further proposed amendments, which had been debated and agreed in the House of Lords. The Bill had been considered in the House of Commons and had received Royal Accent on 15 November 2011, becoming an Act of Parliament.

Members discussed some of the new standards provisions and in particular:

- the role, qualification and appointment of independent persons
- the seven principles of public life
- the requirements placed on principal councils and parish councils.
- the regulations proposed regarding disclosable pecuniary interests, and the absence of any proposed sanctions for breaches of codes of conduct.

The Committee noted that new standards provisions and the options for Stockton Borough Council were likely to be the subject of a report to Cabinet early in the New Year.
S
31/11
The Committee considered a report that provided an update regarding misconduct allegations received by the authority

Members were provided with brief details relating to complaints that had been determined since the last report and complaints that were still outstanding.
S
32/11
Members considered a report regarding predisposition, predetermination and bias.

The Committee was provided with a copy of the Standards Board for England's advice note on this matter and noted some of the key points. The Committee was also provided with a report that detailed two recent cases concerning an allegation that an arbitrator was biased and that a planning committee's decision was flawed due to the appearance of bias. The claims were not upheld.

It was explained that the Localism Act included a specific clause regarding predetermination. The Government's intention was to restrict the point at which predetermination could be adjudged to the point at which the relevant decision was to be made, as opposed to any time before then.

The effect of the clause was for a presumption to be made (by a Court) that any statement or action prior to the point when the relevant matter was being considered by the decision-making body (eg. a planning committee) was not evidence of a closed mind and irrelevant to consideration of any allegation of predetermination or bias.

Members raised a number of scenarios and considered how the clause might apply.
S
33/11
Members were reminded that the Committee had, at its meeting held on 12 February 2010, agreed that a programme of messages from the Committee should be implemented and each message publicised.

Members considered a report that provided details of the most recent message from the Committee relating to predisposition, predetermination or bias.
S
34/11
Members considered a case study and discussed what decisions they might arrive at.
S
35/11
Consideration was given to the updated version of the Standards Committee Forward Plan. Members were asked to consider whether there were other matters which should be included in the programme for future meetings. Members also received the Council's Statutory Forward Plan.

Members noted that a Special Meeting of the Committee may be necessary to consider the New Standards Regime.

The Committee was provided with brief details of the ongoing arrangements associated with Police and Crime Commissioners and Police and Crime Panels.

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