Contact: Peter Sass
The Chairman reported apologies from Mrs Ahmed
and also Mr Wild, the Director of Law and Governance and the
Council’s Monitoring Officer.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest made by
Members of the Committee.
Minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2010 PDF 64 KB
In relation to Minute 4 on page 3 of the
agenda, Mr Gammon stated that it was an eye-opening and
enlightening experience to shadow Mrs Dean and Mr Alex King. He
paid tribute to how hard elected Members worked for their residents
and expressed his amazement about the depth and breadth that the
Members had of a wide range of subjects.
Mr Daley expressed his gratitude for Mr
Gammon’s comments, adding that Mr Christie’s role as a
Group Leader was even more impressive as his group’s
resources were spread more thinly between the various policy areas than his own group.
Mr Christie expressed his thanks to Mr Gammon
for his comments about the work of elected Members.
On a separate matter, Mr Sass undertook to
check if it was possible to obtain access statistics for the
Members’ Annual reports on KCC’s website and, if so, to circulate these
reports to Members of the Standards Committee.
Resolved: that the minutes
of the meeting held on 15 July 2010 be approved as a correct record
and signed by the Chairman.
The Localism Bill - proposed changes to the Standards regime PDF 52 KB
The Committee considered a report from the
Head of Democratic Services and Local Leadership in relation to the
proposed changes to the standards regime, as proposed in the
Following a detailed debate covering many
aspects, the following conclusions were made:
- In order to maintain and improve
public confidence in the activities and behaviour of its elected
Members, Kent County Council should retain a voluntary code of
conduct if the changes proposed in the Localism Bill come to
- It is key
that the Council should retain some form of review independent of
the Council’s Executive. This could take the form of a
continuation of, or a variation on, the current Standards Committee
system with independent Members – although alternative ways
could be explored that have an independent element to it. The issue
of Member training also needs to be addressed either by being
incorporated in (some form) a Standards Committee function or
become part of the Executive function.
- The voluntary structure need not be
expensive to operate; but it was hoped that the small cost would be
regarded as a reasonable price to pay to achieve the main objective
of high public confidence in KCC’s elected Members
- There should also be a mechanism for
dealing with complaints that a Member has failed to follow the
Voluntary Code of Conduct but that there is an opportunity to work
with elected Members of all political groups to ensure that any
complaints process is both appropriate and fleet-footed. It was
also suggested that there should be a filtering process; perhaps by
ensuring that the Monitoring Officer has more power to deal with
- There should also be a discussion
with the political group leaders about the role that group
disciplinary rules would have in any future standards regime,
particularly given the duty that local authorities will have to
promote high standards of conduct
- It should be acknowledged that the
role of the Members’ Annual Reports as a mechanism for
recording the activities of elected Members throughout the year was
an excellent discipline and should continue
- Further clarification is needed in
relation to the proposed alleged criminal offence of failing to
declare certain interests, i.e. if a voluntary code and complaints
process was retained, how and when would it be appropriate for such
a matter to be investigated internally?
- The role of the Monitoring Officer
and his Deputy would require clarification once the new
arrangements were introduced.
- The opportunity should be taken to
see if the arrangements that applied for Kent could also be applied
collaboratively to other local authorities in the County and
whether there was an opportunity to explore joint
Resolved: that (1) the contents of the report
be noted; and
(2) a further report be submitted to the next Committee
meeting and that the Group Leaders be invited to attend to enable
more detailed discussion of the various options.
Complaints Monitoring PDF 47 KB
Resolved: that the
contents of the Complaints Monitoring report be noted.
Standards Committee Work Programme and future meeting dates PDF 43 KB
Resolved: that the contents of the report
be noted and that the meeting on 17
March be cancelled and the Group Leaders be invited to attend the
meeting on 11 May to discuss the future of the ethical standards
Date of Next Meeting
The Committee agreed that its next meeting
would be 11 May 2011.