|Place:||Cross Room, Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland, PR25 1DH|
|Present:||Mr R Atkinson (Independent Chairman) in the chair
Independent members Mr S Ellison and Mr J Holt, Borough Councillors Breakell, Heyworth, Otter, Palmer and Parish Councillors Mrs M Gelder, Mrs E Houghton and Mr R Mitchell.
|In attendance:||Maureen Wood (Director of Corporate Governance), David Whelan (Legal Services Manager) and Carol Eddleston (Democratic Services Officer).|
Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was submitted on behalf of Councillor Foster.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
Minutes of the Last Meeting
That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 March 2010 be approved as a correct record and signed by the chairman.
Letter from Standards for England
The chairman referred members to a letter that he had recently received from Standards for England, which referred to the government's announcement in the recent Queen?s Speech about proposals to ?abolish the Standards Board regime?. Standards for England did not currently have clear details of the scope or implications of the proposals and until such time as the relevant legislation was passed, the statutory framework remained operative.
As more details emerged Standards for England would keep Standards Committee chairmen informed of developments and would be interested in hearing their views about how future arrangements could most effectively work.
Members looked forward to hearing future developments and fully expected some kind of centralised, formal appeal mechanism to remain.
Draft Annual Report on Ethical Standards for 2009/10
Draft Annual Report attached
The Legal Services Manager presented the draft report which, once approved by the Committee, would be presented to full Council.
The report presented both the proactive role of the committee in raising the profile of the ethical agenda and the reactive role which included dealing with complaints received against elected members.
Members commended the clarity and readability of the report and noted that the committee had had another busy year.
As Councillor Foster was unable to attend the meeting, he had submitted a written comment about the reference in the chairman's foreword to the outcome of two appeals to the Adjudication Panel. The chairman said that, whilst he was comfortable with the foreword as currently written, he wanted to ensure that he expressed himself in a manner that was appropriate and that represented the views of the wider committee. Members fully supported the wording and sentiment in the foreword and noted that they had discussed previously that if they had had to consider the two complaints in question again, they would have come to the same conclusions. They agreed with the chairman that the committee should be entitled to challenge decisions taken by the Adjudication Panel (now the First-tier Tribunals [Local Government Standards in England]) when it considered it appropriate to do so.
Members were disappointed that the Legal Services Manager had still had no response to, or acknowledgement of, his calls and emails to Standards for England seeking greater clarity in relation to the issues that were at the heart of the appeals in question. They still wished him to pursue this issue with them. They had hoped that, by now, Standards for England would have provided further guidance/advice as sought.
The chairman stated that it was with regret that he would not be available to present the report to full Council in August, however, he stressed that he would be more than happy to attend Council at an alternative date - if members so desired.
That the draft report be approved, without change, for presentation to full Council.