SSDC Standards Committee
Tuesday, 1st March, 2022 2.00 pm
Venue: Virtual Meeting using Zoom meeting software. View directions
Contact: Becky Sanders, Case Officer - 01935 462596 Email: email@example.com
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the previous meeting held on 23 July 2020. The draft minutes can be viewed at:
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 23 July 2020 were approved as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Hayward Burt and Peter Gubbins.
Declarations of Interest
In accordance with the Council’s current Code of Conduct (as amended 26 February 2015), which includes all the provisions relating to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI), personal and prejudicial interests, Members are asked to declare any DPI and also any personal interests (and whether or not such personal interests are also "prejudicial") in relation to any matter on the Agenda for this meeting.
Members are reminded that they need to declare the fact that they are also a member of a County, Town or Parish Council as a Personal Interest. Where you are also a member of Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council within South Somerset you must declare a prejudicial interest in any business on the agenda where there is a financial benefit or gain or advantage to Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council which would be at the cost or to the financial disadvantage of South Somerset District Council.
There were no declarations of interest.
Public question time
There were no members of the public present at the meeting.
The Monitoring Officer presented the report which informed members of the adoption of a new Code of Conduct for the new Unitary Authority, and sought the views of Standards members on if and when SSDC should adopt the same code. She noted the new Code had recently been adopted by Somerset Council for effect from May 2022 following the local elections. The Somerset Association of Local Councils were supportive of the new Code, and the other district councils in Somerset were also taking a similar report forward with a recommendation for approval prior to vesting day of the new Unitary Authority.
During discussion, the Monitoring Officer responded to points of detail and clarified that:
· members were only being asked for views and to form a recommendation at this stage, as a report would need to go to full council in order to adopt a new Code of Conduct for SSDC.
· The text in red shown in the agenda report was text which the Monitoring Officers across Somerset were recommending be added in addition to the Local Government Association (LGA) Code.
Other points raised by members included:
· The new Code should be adopted to provide consistency across Somerset.
· There may be a need to consider some separate guidance specifically for planning.
At the end of discussion members were in agreement that the Code should be recommended for adoption, for effect soon after May 2022 to align with Somerset County Council.
The Monitoring Officer briefly introduced the item which provided an update on revisions to the Member / Officer Protocol. She noted the report was just to confirm that changes had been made to the protocol as recommended at the previous meeting of the Standards Committee.
There was no discussion and members were content to note the update.
The Monitoring Officer introduced the item and explained she was aware there had not been many meetings of the Standards Committee for some time. She advised there were some matters that would need looked at and considered during the transition phase to the new authority.
A member of the Committee had contacted the Chairman to raise progress of items raised at a previous meeting. The Monitoring Officer and Democratic Services Specialist provided some updates including:
· Review of the Code of Conduct complaints process - as recommending moving to a new Code for the new Somerset Council, it would be appropriate to review and update the complaints process and guidance document at that time.
· Clarity regarding recording of meetings - when this had previously been raised it was prior to the Covid pandemic and referred to audio recordings. Committee meetings were now streamed to YouTube to enable easy viewing, during or after a meeting. The Democratic Services Specialist suggested there might be a need to consider a retention policy for the videos of meetings on YouTube as there were now many videos online. The Monitoring Officer advised that she would discuss the matter with the Data Protection Officer and enquire with the new authority about what it may like us to preserve and for how long. Members also suggested that the Local Government Association may have some guidance. The Monitoring Officer suggested a report could be made to a future meeting about best practice guidance on the matter.
· Training for Committee Chairs - this had been raised at a previous meeting following and members were asked for their views. Members noted that different styles of chairing could lead to inconsistencies in delivery of meetings. Members agreed that training was important for Chairs and Vice-Chairs and should be rolled out for those who would have chairing responsibilities over the next 12 months.
During discussion, officers responded to points of detail, and members were content to note the updates and the suggested items for future meetings.
Members noted a brief verbal update provided by the Monitoring Officer in confidential session about the volume and nature of complaints received under any code of conduct applying to elected members in South Somerset, at District, Town or Parish level.