Minutes for Standards Committee (replaced by Councillor Conduct Committee ) meeting, Oct 3 2011, 6.00PM official page
Venue: Room 3, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3XA. View directions
Contact: Penelope WilliamsItems No. Item
Welcome and Apologies for Absence
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Chris Murphy and Simon James (Independent Member).
Members are asked to declare any personal or prejudicial interests relating to items on the agenda. A flowchart is attached for guidance.
There were no declarations of interest.
Chairman's Update Report
To receive an update, from the Chairman, on the actions taken since the last meeting of the Committee, including current casework.
The Chairman reported on the work carried out, since the last meeting, in his role as Chairman of the Committee.
The Chairman had been in email correspondence with the chairs of other London local authority standards committees, feeding in comments on the standards committee proposals in the Localism Bill. The bill is currently passing through Parliament and is due to be considered by the House of Lords this month.
The Chairman expressed his opposition to any proposals to merge the Audit and Standards Committees.
Proposals in the bill will have an impact as regards councillors and their involvement as interested stakeholders in planning applications, which would have a bearing on how this council deals with planning applications in the light of the decisions made around the recent Tottenham Hotspur application.
Meeting with the Whips
A meeting between the independent members, the whips, John Austin and Asmat Hussain took place to discuss concerns about the trivial nature of many of the complaints received by the Standards Committee and ways of improving member behaviour at full council meetings. The most recent council meeting had run more smoothly.
Of the two complaints referred to the Assessment Sub Committee, one had been dismissed and in the other, one of the four councillors had been referred for further investigation. This investigation was in process.
Two other complaints, concerning councillor casework, received from members of the public, had been resolved informally by the monitoring officer.
1. Councillor Rye’s view that Enfield was a beacon of good practice as regards behaviour and despite some sometimes heated debates, members were always willing to share a drink together in a good natured fashion, after the meeting in the Mayor’s Parlour.
2. Councillor Rye did not favour the proposal to link Standards to the Audit Committee.
3. It was felt that the distinction between Standards and Audit Committee was that Standards was mainly concerned with the conduct of individuals, disputes, resolutions and complaints as opposed to Audit’s systems and regulations.
4. Councillor Rye felt that most cases of misconduct could be dealt with by the party whips with more serious issues being referred to the police. The Standards regime could become redundant once the Localism Bill becomes law.
5. Members were concerned that, if the Standards Committee was abolished, there should be some protection for staff from the possibility of bullying by members, indicating a duty of care to staff, although this was something that rarely occurred.
6. The Chairman felt that there would always be issues that were best dealt with by a mechanism detached from the party political arena. In his view Standards Committees did not generally encourage vexatious complaints.
To receive an update on the latest developments with regard to the Government’s Localism Bill, currently going through Parliament.
Members received and noted a paper prepared by Paula Harvey, Legal Services, on the revised Standards Framework in the Localism Bill. This was tabled at the meeting and is available on the Council’s website.
To receive a report from John Austin, Monitoring Officer, on the London-wide Members Allowances Panel.
The committee received a copy of the Remuneration of Councillors in London 2010 produced by the London Wide Members Allowances Panel.
John Austin introduced the report:
- Most London Boroughs had signed up to the scheme.
- Allowances are reviewed every 4 years, the last review took place in 2010. In the light of recent changes they may be reviewed again before 2014.
- Enfield had regard to the recommendations when making decisions on setting allowances.
- Enfield’s basic allowance was in line with most other authorities.
- Enfield’s special responsibility allowances (SRAs) were in the lower quartile and had been for a number of years.
- Last year members had decided not to increase any allowances. Cabinet members had had a reduction as they had agreed to share the amount previously allocated to 9 between the 10 new members.
- The recommendations in the report, as regards Standards Committee Chairmen, and other independent members had not been taken up.