Agenda and draft minutes

Governance Committee - Wednesday, 19th June, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room B - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: democratic.services@crawley.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosures of Interest

In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, Councillors of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.

 

Minutes:

No disclosures of interests were made.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Governance Committee held on 5 March 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Governance Committee held on 5 March 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

3.

Local Government Ethical Standards: Review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) Implementation of Best Practice Recommendations pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To consider report LDS/154 of the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered report LDS/154 of the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR which set out the Best Practice Recommendations of the Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) on its Review of Local Government Ethical Standards.  The report detailed how the Council complied with those standards and sought Councillors’ views on a number of those practice recommendations in respect of the Council’s current Code of Conduct for Councillors (“the Code”) and Arrangements for Dealing with Code of Conduct Complaints (“Arrangements”).

 

The Head of Legal, Democracy and HR advised the Committee that the report before it followed-up on the Update on Standards report (LDS/145) which had been considered at the previous Committee meeting.   The Committee noted it was expected that the Local Government Association would produce a new model Code of Conduct in due course, and therefore the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR suggested that the Council’s current Code remain materially unchanged until the model Code had been produced.  In the opinion of the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR it was prudent to consider the CSPL’s Best Practice Recommendations at this stage, and make any changes to the current Code which the Committee considered necessary, rather than waiting until the new model Code had been produced.

 

The Committee’s attention was then drawn to Appendix A of the report which set out an assessment of the CSPL’s Best Practice Recommendations against a commentary of the arrangements currently in operation at Crawley.  The Committee considered each relevant Best Practice Recommendation in turn where the Committee’s views were sought

 

Best Practice Recommendation 1:

 

The Committee considered whether harassment should be included in the Code as well as the definition of bullying and harassment as set out in the CSPL’s report.

 

It was suggested by a Committee Member that the phrasing “…..related to a relevant “protected characteristic”….” be removed from the proposed definition of harassment as it was not necessarily relevant to the context of harassment behaviour, the Committee agreed that the wording be taken out.

 

The Committee AGREED that harassment be included in the Code as set out in the report, along with the following definition of bullying and harassment:

 

“Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour or abuse or misuse of power in a way that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.”

 

“Harassment is defined in The Equality Act 2010 as “unwanted conduct” which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.”

 

Best Practice Recommendation 2:

 

The Committee considered whether a definitive statement relating to a Councillor’s co-operation with any formal standards investigation should be included within the Code.

 

The Committee noted that the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR consulted with the Independent Person when considering whether a complaint was trivial, malicious, vexatious, politically motivated or tit-for-tat.

 

The Committee AGREED that a definitive statement be included in the Code which required Councillors to comply with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Appointment of an Independent Person

The term of office of the Independent Person comes to an end in July 2019.  The Council’s Independent Person has indicated that he is willing to serve a further term of office.  In light of the recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL), it is recommended that this appointment be for a term of two years.

 

Recommendation

 

The Committee is asked to recommend to Full Council that Mr P Nicolson be appointed for a two year term of office as the Independent Person under the provisions of The Localism Act 2011.

Minutes:

The Head of Legal, Democracy and HR advised that the term of office of the Independent Person was due to end in July 2019 and that the Council’s current Independent Person had indicated that he would be willing to serve a further term of office.  In light of the recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) (see Minute 3 above), the Committee agreed to recommend to Full Council the appointment of the current Independent Person (Mr P Nicolson) for a term of two years.

 

The Head of Legal, Democracy and HR advised the Committee that she considered it prudent to advertise for a second Independent Person in March 2020 with a view to having them appointed in July 2020 for a two year term of office.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.    That the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR advertise for a second Independent Person in March 2020 for a two year term of office.

 

2.    That the Full Council be recommended to approve the appointment of Mr P Nicolson for a two year term of office as the Independent Person under the provisions of The Localism Act 2011.

5.

Annual Governance Statement 2018-2019 pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To consider report LDS/153 of the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered report LDS/153 of the Head of Legal, Democracy and HR which requested that the Committee consider the Annual Governance Statement and provide any comments for incorporation into the final version which would be included in the Annual Statement of Accounts, which was due to be considered by the Audit Committee in July 2019.

 

A Committee Member queried why the sections within the document were set out in that particular order as they were of the opinion that the structure could be improved to reduce to need to repeat information within the Statement.  The Head of Legal, Democracy and HR agreed to feedback that viewpoint to the relevant officer.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the comment identified above be taken into consideration, and that the final version of the Annual Governance Statement be included in the Annual Statement of Accounts, which was to be approved by the Audit Committee in July 2019.

6.

Constitutional Review Working Group Update

Councillor Lamb, as Chair of the Working Group, will provide the Committee with an update.

Minutes:

Councillor Lamb, as Chair of the Constitutional review Working Group, provided a verbal update on the comprehensive review of the Constitution which had been established by the Committee at its meeting on 15 March 2017 (report LDS/126 refers).

 

Councillor Lamb advised the Committee that it had not been possible to get all the views of the Working Group back in time for the Constitution to be approved at the Full Council AGM as previously envisaged.  A meeting of the Working Group was in the process of being arranged to iron-out any outstanding issues before the revised Constitution would be taken, via the Governance Committee in September, to the October Full Council meeting for adoption.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the update provided by the Chair of the Constitutional Review Working Group be noted.