Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: John Meikle Room, The Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton TA1 1HE. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Email: democraticservicesteam@somerset.gov.uk 

Media

Items
No. Item

40.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence received from Robin Horton.  

 

Paul Hooper and Cllr Martin Dimery sent apologies but were in attendance online.  

 

41.

Declarations of Interest

To receive and note any declarations of interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.

(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest. 

42.

Public Question Time

The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.

For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.

We are now live webcasting most of our committee meetings and you are welcome to view and listen to the discussion. The link to each webcast will be available on the meeting webpage, please see details under ‘click here to join online meeting’.

Minutes:

No members of the public had registered to speak. 

43.

Minutes from the Previous Meeting and Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To approve the minutes from the previous meeting held on 24 January 2024 and to consider the action sheet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the action sheet from the previous meeting held on 24th January 2024 and noted the following. 

 

Action 1.1(Review committee – sub-committee membership) 

This in included in the P2 report under item 8 on this agenda. 

Action 1.2(Update on the recruitment of an additional co-opted member) 

This is agenda item 9. 

Action 1.3(Qualitative to response to survey Q5) 

This in included in the P2 report under item 8 on this agenda. 

Action 1.4(To discuss and feedback the Groups thoughts on improving response levels to survey and uptake of Code of Conduct) 

This in included in the P2 report under item 8 on this agenda. 

Action 1.5(Confirmation of whether point 9.6 of Somerset Councils code of conduct was included in the model code of conduct provided for city, town and parish councils to be given to members) 

The Monitoring Officer confirmed that 9.6 was omitted. 

Action 1.6 (Service director to share with Union reps and update committee) 

The Monitoring Officer advised that this is a low priority item and is on hold at this time. 

Action 1.7(Individual experiences to be used to Test Drive) 

This is included in the P1 report under agenda item 8 on this agenda 

Action 2.1(Monthly reports to members and reporting to be reviewing every 6 months) 

This is included in the P1 report under agenda item 8 on this agenda. 

Action 2.2 (Standards Committee Annual Report – SW to discuss with JB and agree) 

This isagenda item 5. 

 

Resolved 

That the minutes of the previous meeting held on the 24th January 2024 be confirmed as a correct record. 

 

44.

Annual Report of the Standards Committee pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To consider the draft annual report for submission to the Council’s Annual General Meeting in May 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received the details of the six-monthly report of the relevantdeclarations of gifts and hospitality received from the 110 members during the period August 2023 to February 2024 

It was noted that none have been reported as accepted or rejected, which this committee has asked for before. The Chair asked that the Monitoring Officer consider this additional reporting going forward.   

Members discussed the relevance and appropriateness of those declarations of gifts which do not appear to be related to Council business. i.e.attending events where members were not representing this council.The Chair proposed that the issue should come back to P2 for further discussion, and this was agreed by the committee 

 

Resolved  

The committee noted the Register of Gifts and Hospitality for the period August 2023 to February 2024. 

 

45.

Register of Gifts and Hospitality pdf icon PDF 46 KB

To receive details of the declarations of gifts and hospitality received during the period August 2023 to February 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received the details of the six-monthly report of the relevantdeclarations of gifts and hospitality received from the 110 members during the period August 2023 to February 2024 

It was noted that none have been reported as accepted or rejected, which this committee has asked for before. The Chair asked that the Monitoring Officer consider this additional reporting going forward.   

Members discussed the relevance and appropriateness of those declarations of gifts which do not appear to be related to Council business. i.e.attending events where members were not representing this council.The Chair proposed that the issue should come back to P2 for further discussion, and this was agreed by the committee 

 

Resolved  

The committee noted the Register of Gifts and Hospitality for the period August 2023 to February 2024. 

 

 

 

46.

Code of Conduct Complaints - Quarterly update pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To receive an update on the number of Code of Conduct complaints received since April 2023.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received the quarterly update on the number of Code of Conduct complaints received since April 2023, and the following comments and questions were received and discussed with David Clark, the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

 

This would be picked up later in the agenda under the P1 working group report.

 

Regarding two recent incidents that occurred at Full Council meetings, one of these was not upheld as a formal complaint, and the other, which occurred after the reporting period presented to members in this report, would be included in the next report. 

 

There is an inaccuracy in Appendix 1 Minehead Parish Council, should be Minehead Town Council. 

 

Regarding Member Training on the Code of Conduct and Standards, this will be developed by the Member Development Panel, and the Chair asked that more details of this would be brought back to the next meeting of this committee.

 

Regarding any training needs that are identified by complaints, the Monitoring Officer suggested that he reach out to SALC regarding a training programme for town and parish councils. 

 

There was a discussion around support and messaging around media policy and the Monitoring Officer advised that many of the larger councils do have their own policies. 

 

 Resolved

 

The committee noted the update.

47.

Working Group Updates pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair presented the Priority Group 1 report and there was some debate around the need for a feedback form. The Monitoring Officer advised that he would be happy to review the draft feedback form and report back 

Cllr Nicholson presented the Priority Group 2 report and asked that the committee to consider the recommendations within in.The Head of Governance reminded members that the recommendations within the report would result in a proposed amendment to the Constitution and would be subject to Full Council approval. He also added that under the Constitution Standards sub-committee members are made up of theelected members with voting rights, and that Standards co-opted members do not have the same voting rights.  

Membersdiscussed the recommendations at lengthand debated the value of the proposed changes given that there are minimal numbers of Standards sub-committees meetings held each year.The Chair proposed that this committeerevisits the debate at a future meeting, should the number of Standards sub-committee meetings increase 

 

Resolved 

The committee noted the reports from the Priority Groups 1 & 2. 

 

48.

Standards Committee Co-Opted Member recruitment update pdf icon PDF 45 KB

To receive the update on the recruitment to the co-opted member vacancy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received the updateand one member felt disappointed that the vacancy had not been filled and suggested that the committee should seek some reassurance on the timeline for recruitment to the vacancy. The Head of Governance advised that from advertisement through to appointment the recruitment should take around two months, and the Chair and the wider committee agreed that this seems reasonable and acceptable, and therefore agreed that the outcome should be known in time for the next meeting 

 

Resolved 

The committee noted the update on the recruitment to the co-opted member vacancy.  

 

49.

Work Programme and Actions pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To consider the Committee’s Work Programme and to identify any actions arising from the meeting.