Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Tuesday, 18th December, 2018 10.00 am

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interests pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Members are reminded of the need to consider whether they have a personal or prejudicial interest to declare in any of the items on this agenda.  If so, the nature of the interest must be declared at the start or as soon as the interest becomes apparent, of the meeting.  In addition, the attached form must be completed and passed to the Committee Administrator.  The Officers will be pleased to advise, if necessary, and any request for assistance should be made, in the first instance, to the Committee Administrator whose name appears at the end of this agenda.  Ideally, such advice should be sought before the day of the meeting so that time is available to consider any uncertainty that might arise.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 20 March 2018.  (Minutes attached).

Minutes:

The Committee confirmed the minutes of 20 March 2018 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

3.

Public Question Time

Public questions of which due notice has been given and which are relevant to the business of the Committee.

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

4.

Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To consider a report by the Director (Report No 18/305 attached)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer (DMO) informed the Standards Committee that following the outcome of the recent RIPA desktop inspection and by the Investigatory Power’s Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) that there was no requirement for a physical inspection to take place as detailed in the report.  Recommendations had been made by the IPCO which were also detailed in the report.  The Council’s RIPA Policy and Procedure document had been updated to reflect the IPCO’s recommendation and was attached at Appendix A to the report.  The DMO also advised that a further report on the Council’s use of social media would be brought before the Members for approval in the New Year.

 

Cllr Randerson raised a query in relation to section 5 of the policy and Communications Data.  Cllr Randerson felt that the policy only referred to the powers giving the Council authorisation to monitor employees communications only and not members of the Council including their private e-mails from constituents.

 

The Monitoring Officer (MO) re-affirmed that this had been discussed before at previous meetings and that the policy as well as the Council’s actions in relation to communications were both lawful and correct. 

 

In addition the MO advised that there was a clear unreasonable complainants policy in place regarding vexatious communication and the abuse of the system. 

 

The MO also advised that the Council had a duty of care to protect staff from harm.  However, should the person have a genuine issue or legitimate complaint it would then be forwarded onto the relevant area to be dealt with in an appropriate manner. The MO pointed out that on some occasions abusive communications had been upsetting when received by Officers, but, to put it into context from approximately 110,000 residents in the Borough only a few complainants were deemed as unreasonable under the policy and the action is proportionate when at that level.

 

The Chair commented that it was right that staff are protected and not subject to this type of abuse.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            the Standards Committee note the information within the report, and,

 

(ii)          note that the Council’s RIPA Policy and Procedures document has been updated to reflect the recommendation of the IPCO, and,

 

(iii)         note that a further report on the Council’s use of social media will be brought before Members for approval in the New Year.

5.

Verbal Update

To receive a verbal report by the Director and Monitoring Officer, Lisa Dixon

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer (MO) advised members that the Governance Working Group would be reviewing the Code of Conduct over the next few months which would be reviewed on a regular basis. 

 

The MO also advised that when complaints were made against members, at one time there had been a situation which resulted in a large amount of tit for tat complaints being received as both the Complainant and Borough/Parish Councillor were both notified.  It had previously been agreed by the Governance Working Group that until the initial Independent Persons meeting had taken place that the Borough or Parish Councillor to whom the complaint had been made against would not be notified so as to reduce the amount of these type of unnecessary complaints being made and received.  The MO advised that some members had raised concerns with this approach therefore the Governance Working Group would revisit this matter.   

 

The MO also advised that an officer/member working group was due to be set up to carry out a review of the Council’s Constitution.  Further details on this group including its membership would come forward in the New Year.  Cllr Randerson expressed an interest on sitting on this group which was noted.   

 

RESOLVED; that the Committee note the verbal update.