Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall
Contact: Shirley Hudspeth
Webcast: View the webcast
Member Declarations of interest
Members are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.
No declarations of interest were received.
a) Meeting Requisition Letter. (Page 1)
b) Report of the Director: Governance and Assurance. (Pages 3 – 7)
Appendix A - Wirral Code of Conduct for Members, Protocol for investigations and decision making. (Pages 9 – 26)
Appendix B - North Lincolnshire Council Arrangements for dealing with Complaints about Councillors. (Pages 27 – 51)
Appendix C - Manchester City Council Arrangements for dealing with Complaints about Councillors. (Pages 53 – 65)
A report by the Director: Governance and Assurance informed that a Special meeting of the Committee had been called by some of its Members in order to discuss the Council’s failure to follow the Code of Conduct Protocol which detailed arrangements for investigating and making decisions in relation to allegations made under the Members’ Code of Conduct. This had resulted in unacceptable delays to the standards process.
In 2014 the Council had adopted a Members’ Code of Conduct and a process for dealing with complaints made under that code following the changes to the ethical standards regime introduced by the Localism Act 2011. Since 2014 there had been experience of dealing with complaints which had highlighted areas for improvement and clarification in the arrangements for dealing with complaints against Members. In particular, issues had been raised in relation to the timeliness with which complaints had been dealt with under the current Protocol. The Director’s report sought authority to adopt a revised procedure for investigating and making decisions in relation to allegations made under the Members’ Code of Conduct.
Councillor Chris Blakeley reported that the meeting had been requisitioned because Members believed that the current Protocol was not adhered to by officers. The meeting had been called to consider this Protocol which was appended to the Director’s report as Appendix A and not those of North Lincolnshire and Manchester City Councils that had been appended to the report as Appendix B and C.
Councillor Bernie Mooney informed that as Members were not happy with the Council’s own Protocol it was appropriate for the Committee to also consider those of other councils that were considered to be best practice.
The Director: Governance and Assurance reported that over the last six years Council officers had failed to comply with the Protocol 90% of the time. He informed that he would deal with this and put it right. The Director, in doing this, would have regard to the current Protocol, identify why it was not doing its job and suggest improvements. Members would be involved in this process.
Councillor Phil Gilchrist informed that he had not seen an analysis of the delays in administering complaints against Members along with the reasons for them. He knew that the reasons may include difficulties in collecting evidence, getting people to give evidence etc. He would like to have seen a list of particular cases along with the reasoning for not progressing them within the timescales laid down.
Councillor Chris Blakeley provided details of numerous complaints known to him where the timescales within the Protocol had not been adhered to and raised concerns about the effect delays had on subject Members. He made reference to the following paragraph contained within the North Lincolnshire Council’s Protocol:
‘The Monitoring Officer will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 working days of receiving it. A full copy of your complaint will, subject to any ruling on disclosure, ordinarily be sent to the Member complained of inviting their written comments within 10 ... view the full minutes text for item 12.