Venue: Council Chamber, The Abbey House, Abingdon
Contact: Steven Corrigan, Democratic Services ManagerItems No. Item
Apologies for absence
District Councillors Mike Badcock and Julie Mayhew-Archer, Parish Council representative Councillor Rita Atkinson, and independent member Mike Roberts, each had submitted an apology for absence.
To adopt and sign as a correct record the minutes of the committee meeting held on 20 December 2011(attached).
RESOLVED: To adopt the minutes of the committee meeting held on 20 December 2011 as a correct record and agree that the chairman signs them.
Declarations of interest
To receive any declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.
Urgent business and chairman's announcements
To receive notification of any matters that the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business, and the special circumstances that have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chairman.
Statements, petitions and questions from the public relating to matters affecting the Standards Committee
Any statements, petitions and questions from members of the public under standing order 32 will be made or presented at the meeting.
To consider report 91/11 of the head of legal and democratic services.
The committee considered report 91/11 of the head of legal and democratic services regarding the Localism Act and the new standards framework. The latest advice was that the council would have to adopt a revised code of conduct by 1 July 2012. This was subject to government confirmation, as was guidance on what constituted a disclosable pecuniary interest.
The officers asked the committee for its views on the draft code. The Oxfordshire monitoring officers had prepared a draft code following best practice. The intention was for all councils across the county to adopt the same code to help councillors on two or more councils, i.e. the county, district or parish councils. The revised code had to follow the seven principles of good governance, known as the Nolan principles; these were selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.
The district council still had responsibility for its own councillors and considering complaints against parish councillors. However, the committee noted that the complaints assessment procedure would change. The standards assessment and review panels would no longer be required. Instead, the monitoring officer would consider complaints in consultation with an independent person. There was no appeals mechanism. The existing independent committee members would have to finish their standards role with the council—a requirement of the Act. The council would have to find new independent representatives.
The committee supported the draft code in principle but was invited to feedback any detailed comments to the monitoring officer within two weeks.
The committee also noted that under the Act, the council was no longer required to appoint a standards committee after 1 July or until the new code of conduct came into operation.
RESOLVED: To note the update on the standards framework under the Localism Act.
Exempt information under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972