Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Thursday 28 September 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Board Room 2 - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: James Kinsella, Governance Manager  020 8937 2063, Email: james.kinsella@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and clarification of any alternative members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Kabir (with Councillor Moher substituting) and also from Margaret Adenike Bruce (Independent Member).

 

Before moving on to consider the main item on the agenda, Councillor Allie (as Chair) took the opportunity to formally welcome Nigel Shock to his first meeting of the Committee as a newly appointed Independent Person.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant personal and prejudicial interests and disclosable pecuniary interests in any matter to be considered at this meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To approve, as a correct record, the attached minutes of the previous meeting held on 29 June 2017.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 29 June 2017 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

4.

Matters Arising (if any)

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

None.

5.

Update on Standards Matters pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To consider a report from the Chief Legal Officer updating the Committee on a recent Members’ Code of Conduct complaint upheld against a Councillor and also on the registration of any gifts and hospitality received by Members in the last quarter.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Debra Norman (Chief Legal and Monitoring Officer) introduced the report which provided the Committee with an update on:

 

·                the final outcome of a recent Members Code of Conduct complaint against Councillor John Duffy; and

 

·                any gifts and hospitality registered by Members during the last quarter (July-September 2017).

 

In addition the Committee had also received, as additional information in advance of the meeting, details of a consultation currently being undertaken by the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) on proposals for updating the criteria disqualifying individuals from being elected, or holding office as local authority members, which comments were also being sought on.

 

5.1    Outcome of complaint against a Councillor

 

Looqman Desai (Senior Lawyer – Governance) summarised the background to the complaint against Councillor Duffy, which following investigation by the Deputy Monitoring Officer had been upheld.  Members noted the final Decision Notice which had been issued and published on the Council’s website  confirming the outcome of the complaint and recommended sanctions.  These had included Councillor Duffy being requested to apologise to the Chief Executive as well as the decision being published and reported to the Committee.

 

Members noted that Councillor Duffy had not exercised his right to request a review of the decision prior to it being finalised and, to date, had not issued an apology to the Chief Executive.

 

In response to comments raised on the update, Looqman Desai confirmed that the outcome of the complaint had been reported to the Committee for information only.  There was no opportunity to undertake a further investigation, as the complaint had already been concluded in accordance with the complaints procedure.

 

Whilst noting the limited powers available to local authorities under the current standards regime, the Committee fully supported the sanctions imposed as an outcome of the complaint.  As a result, concerns were raised by members of the Committee and Independent Persons that no apology had yet been offered by Councillor Duffy, which the Committee felt compounded his original breach of the Code of Conduct.  Further concern was expressed about an email Councillor Duffy had sent to all Members of the Council on the day prior to the Committee which had reiterated some of the previous accusations that had been subject to the original complaint.  The Committee felt this further compounded his earlier misconduct and was unacceptable, with Members keen to explore what additional sanctions were available to them in order to reflect the concerns raised.

 

Looqman Desai advised that under the current standards regime there were limited additional powers available (over and above censure) to impose further sanctions given that the complaints process and original investigation had been concluded.  It would, however, be possible for the Monitoring Officer on behalf of the Committee to write to Councillor Duffy expressing their concern and disappointment over his behaviour and seeking the apology originally requested, with the letter (as a further form of censure) being published on the Council’s website.  The Committee supported this proposal and as a more general request also felt it would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Any Other Urgent Business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.

Minutes:

None.

7.

Date of the Next Meeting

The next meeting of the committee is scheduled to take place at 6pm on Monday 27 November 2017.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee had been scheduled to take place at 6:00pm on Monday 27 November 2017.