Agenda and decisions

Standards Assessment Sub Committee - Thursday, 11th February, 2021 1.30 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams

Contact: Julie Gallagher 

Items
No. Item

1.

APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR

2.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

3.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

4.

DETERMINATION OF ALLEGATION OF BREACH OF THE MEMBER CODE OF CONDUCT PART A pdf icon PDF 337 KB

A report from the Interim Monitoring Officer, Janet Witkowski is attached.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Standards sub-committee

 

Decision notice

 

Reference: SC 01/21

 

Parties receiving this Decision Notice should take care when acting on this information, as some of it may be confidential for the purposes of these proceedings and must not be released without first discussing the same with the Monitoring Officer.

 

Outline of Complaint:

 

On 3 August 2020 the Monitoring Officer received a complaint from Mrs Jayne Hammond concerning remarks made about her by Councillor Robert Caserta at the Council meeting held on the 8 July 2020.  This complaint was considered in the first instance by the Council’s Monitoring Officer and the Independent Person and following an investigation undertaken by an Independent Investigating Officer and the failure of local resolution, a standards sub-committee (Hearings Panel) was convened.  The Standards Sub Committee met to consider the complaint and took representations from interested parties on the 11th and 18th February 2021.

 

 

Decision:

 

The sub-committee found three breaches of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and Other Voting Representatives (the Code), one breach was not found and it further found three breaches of the Protocol on Member Officer and Relations (the Protocol). In determining which sanction to impose, Members of the sub-committee considered that the action must be proportionate to the breach.

 

The sub-committee therefore resolved that:

 

  1. Councillor Robert Caserta issues an unequivocal apology to Mrs. Jayne Hammond

2.   The Council’s Interim Monitoring Officer is instructed to arrange training for Councillor Robert Caserta in respect of the Code and the Protocol

3.   A decision notice be published on the Council’s website.

 

 

Reasons for the Decision:-

 

The Sub-Committee considered the Code and the Protocol as well as the relevant legislation

 

  • Section 27 (2) of the Localism Act 2011 places a duty on relevant authorities to ensure their members and co-opted members maintain high standards of conduct and requires such authorities to adopt a code of conduct for their members.
  • Section 28 (2) requires a relevant authority to adopt a code whose contents must be consistent with the seven “Nolan” principles of standards in public life (Selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honest and leadership).

 

 

Breaches of the Code identified:

 

The Code of Conduct

 

Preamble paragraph 2.8. - Respect for Others:

“Members should promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. They should respect the impartiality and integrity of the authority’s statutory Officers, and its other employees”

 

Reason –

There was no evidence before the panel that the cost of the Bourne and Newsam reports were attributable to the complainant and by making that suggestion the subject member failed to respect the integrity of an Officer. Whilst a councillor must be free to raise issues and level valid criticism, the subject member went about this in the wrong way by making it personal to the complainant.

 

Unanimous decision

 

General provisions paragraph 3.1. (e)  You must not...

“Behave in a way that a reasonable person would regard as disrespectful”

 

Reason  ...  view the full decision text for item 4.

5.

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

That Members may wish to consider that the press and public be excluded from the meeting under Section 100 (A)(4), Schedule 12(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, for the reason that the following business may involve the disclosure of exempt information.

6.

DETERMINATION OF ALLEGATION OF BREACH OF THE MEMBER CODE OF CONDUCT PART B

A report from the Interim Monitoring Officer, Janet Witkowski is attached.