Venue: Committee Room A, South Walks House, South Walks Road, Dorchester, DT1 1EE
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Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest.
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive questions or statements on the business of the committee from town and parish councils and members of the public.
There were no representations from town and parish councils or members of the public.
To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.
There were no urgent items.
To consider a report of the Corporate Director – Legal and Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer.
The committee considered a report which set out the Member Complaint process and the terms of reference for an Audit and Governance Assessment Sub-committee and an Audit and Governance Hearings Sub-committee. The sub-committees would meet to consider Code of Conduct complaints received against councillors of the Dorset Council and parish and town councillors serving on 163 parish and town councils. The Corporate Director (Legal and Democratic) and Monitoring Officer took the committee through the detail of the report including the need for complaints to be received in writing and not be anonymous, the level of detail expected from a complainant and the initial filtering that would take place in respect of complaints received including the use of appointed Independent Persons in this process. The process could be reviewed if necessary in future in order to ensure that it remained proportionate and workable.
It was noted that reports on the agenda for the Assessment Sub-committee would be treated as exempt in order to give the hearing the freedom to choose how the deal with the consideration of the complaints, at the early stage of the process. In the later stages of the complaints process, it would be usual for hearings to take place in public.
In response to a question it was noted that a person being complained about would be informed by the Monitoring Officer when the complaint was received.
A discussion was held as to how councillors would be selected for the sub-committees and the issues around having named sub-committees established versus selecting councillors each time a sub-committee was required from the membership of the Audit and Governance Committee. A number of views were expressed in support of both methods. Following this discussion it was agreed as follows
That the proposal to establish 4 sub-committees of named members of the Audit and Governance in order to undertake the Assessment and Hearings Sub-committees be agreed as follows:
Councillors Matt Hall, Noc Lacey-Clarke and Bill Pipe
Councillors Richard Biggs, Simon Christopher and Brian Heatley
Councillors Matt Hall, Mike Parkes and Susan Cocking
Councillors Richard Biggs, Bill Trite and David Gray
Substitutes can be appointed from the membership of the Audit and Governance Committee.
Councillors considered the issues arising from the report and during discussion the following points were raised:
· The report proposed that there would be no right of appeal against a decision of the Hearings Sub-committee and the committee held a discussion as to whether this was considered an appropriate clause to include. The Monitoring Officer explained the previous experience that had been gained from investigating Code of Conduct complaints, where some complaints had taken up to two years to go though the process. It was also noted that if an appeals process was available, this would require a further sub-committee of three councillors
· A point was raised that there was a need to set out the stages of the process but draw a line at the appropriate time
· The ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To move the exclusion of the press and the public for the following item in view of the likely disclosure of exempt information within the meaning of paragraph x of schedule 12 A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
The public and the press will be asked to leave the meeting whilst the item of business is considered.
There is no exempt business.
There was no exempt business.