Contact: Lynn Cain Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary or Personal Interests and Non Disclosable Pecuniary/Other Interests
No declarations of interest were made.
that the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 9 December 2020, be received and approved as a correct record.
The Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) presented the report and provided Members with an update as to the operation of the
Whistleblowing Policy over the preceding 12 months. In relation to the Whistleblowing Policy, Members were advised that no changes were required for the forthcoming year.
One anonymous whistleblowing complaint, via the trade union, had been received in the preceding twelve months. The allegations were substantial and were in relation to fraud, corruption and bribery. An extensive investigation was carried out with 16 people being interviewed by the Director of Legal and Governance and the Chief Executive and the police were also involved at certain points in the exercise. On its conclusion, there had been no evidence of any wrongdoing and no disciplinary action was taken but some management recommendations had been made and disseminated accordingly.
It had been acknowledged following the investigation, that most whistleblowing allegations were now being submitted anonymously through the unions and management were keen to ascertain why this was. Investigations could be undertaken with far greater clarity and understanding if the whistle blower was a named officer and it was hoped that this course of action could be encouraged in the future.
The Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) was intending to be a more visible presence at the Depot going forward to encourage a drop in approach for staff wishing to voice any concerns or worries in confidence.
a) it be acknowledged that no changes were required to the Whistleblowing Policy, as appended to the report, for the forthcoming year;
b) the update as to the operation of the Whistleblowing Policy over the preceding 12 months, be received and noted.
The Scrutiny Research Officer presented the report which detailed the proposed annual changes to the Constitution for the 2021/22 municipal year. Key officers had submitted their suggested updates for the document which usually came about due to changes in legislation and the introduction of new policies. The table contained in the report highlighted the main changes for 2021/22 including any textual amendments and updates to officer titles as required.
Contract Procedure Rules had been changed to reflect the country’s departure from the EU but the Council was still awaiting further information in relation to new procurement rules. Work was also being undertaken by officers to consider how to incorporate the decision taken at the 4 February Council meeting (via a motion) to ensure that as many purchases as possible, procured by the Council, would come from UK based organisations and/or local businesses.
The Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) advised Committee that the Council Procedure Rules would continue to be reviewed up until the report’s submission to the Annual Council Meeting in May 2021 to incorporate the latest guidance in relation to virtual, face to face and/or hybrid meetings.
Temporary Covid legislation with regard to virtual meetings was due to end on 7 May 2021 and the Council would then be required to return to face to face meetings with social distancing rules being observed. Local authorities nationally had recognised that this change would be extremely difficult to facilitate and many had lobbied Government for an extension to the temporary legislation. The outcome was awaited.
that the proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution for 2021/22, be received and noted.
The Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) presented the report and firstly took Members through progress in relation to implementation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life best practice recommendations, incorporating where applicable the recommendations from the recent informal Standard Working Group.
Members fully considered each recommendation in turn and agreed their progress/implementation as required.
Secondly, the Committee considered the new draft Members Code of Conduct that was a hybrid version of the Council’s current code and the new Model Code of Conduct as produced by the Local Government Association (LGA).
Members had already debated the content of the new Code at length through the informal Standards Working Group and the draft was now being presented to Committee for final consideration prior to its submission to the Annual Council Meeting in May 2021.
The informal Standards Working Group had however, highlighted five areas for final consideration prior to approval and these were in relation to the following:
· to agree the definition of what was included as a Disclosable Personal Interest
· to consider if declarations of interest should be registered in advance or to stay with the current Council process of registering interests at the start of a meeting
· to consider whether the wording for “Non-disclosable Pecuniary/Other interest” should be changed to “Non-Registrable Interests”
· to consider if Members should continue with the Council’s current approach to Member involvement in discussion and voting after declaring interests at a meeting
· whether to state in the Code a financial value (£50) for a gift or hospitality that is declined, or to update the Code to the more recent version of a “significant” gift only.
a) the updated position regarding the implementation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life best practice recommendations and to include the ongoing work to the Committee’s Work Plan for 2021/22, be approved as follows:
The Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) presented an overview of the work of the Standards and Personnel Appeals Committee during 2020/2021, asked Members to consider the Workplan items for 2021/2022 and to note the update in relation to Member Code of Conduct complaints to date.
Members acknowledged that the progress with the Workplan had faltered during 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but had picked up in early 2021. Work on the review of the Nottinghamshire Authorities Protocol with Nottinghamshire Police had not been started and would be rolled over onto the Workplan for 2021/22.
Work however, on the new Member Code of Conduct, had been really productive and the new draft Code had been submitted to Members at this meeting for consideration. Meeting as an informal group had been extremely useful for officers and Members alike and it was intended that these would continue to be utilised in the forthcoming year.
Members debated the content of the new Workplan for 2021/22 and acknowledged the current position in relation to Members complaints. Due to the pandemic, minimal progress had been made with the majority of the complaints and although further resources had been made available, there was still a considerable amount of work to be undertaken to clear the backlog.
Some work had been progressing, but it was sporadic. Outsourcing the complaints was not a viable option as this was extremely expensive and not something the Council could financially support at this present time.
10 new formal complaints had been received during 2020, with a further 4 already being submitted in the early part of 2021. It was acknowledged however, on consideration of the complaint forms, that many of the accusations were seemingly frivolous and trying to eradicate this type of complaint was an issue to be considered by officers in the future.
a) progress made in relation to the agreed 2020/21 Workplan and the items proposed for the 2021/22 Workplan, be received and endorsed;
b) the number of Member complaints received during 2020/21 to date, as summarised in the report, including the current outstanding complaints as set out in Appendix 1, be duly noted.