Agenda and minutes

Standards Hearings Panel
Thursday, 4th December, 2014 10.00 am

Venue: Main Committee Room, Civic Centre, Stone Cross, Northallerton

Contact: Democratic Services Officer  01609 767015

Items
No. Item

SHP.22

Election of Chairman

Minutes:

THE DECISION:

 

That Councillor Kirk be elected Chairman for duration of the meeting.

 

(Councillor Kirk in the Chair)

SHP.23

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To consider passing a resolution under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 excluding the press and public from the meeting during consideration of item 4 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

Minutes:

THE DECISION:

 

That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public were excluded from the meeting during consideration of the items of business at minute no SHP.24 on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as the Panel was satisfied that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.

SHP.24

Allegations about a Parish Council Member

Report of the Monitoring Officer

Minutes:

The subject of the decision:

 

The Corporate Director presented a report about allegations that a Parish Councillor failed to comply with the provisions of the Parish Council’s Code of Member Conduct.

 

Neither the person who had made the allegations or the Councillor against whom the allegations had been made were present.  The Panel was disappointed that neither person attended because this made it more difficult to establish all the facts.

 

Alternative options considered:

 

None.

 

The reason for the decision:

 

Having considered the Monitoring Officer’s report and the accompanying documents the Panel’s findings were as follows:-

 

·           The first allegation was that the Councillor used foul language at a meeting of the Parish Council in July 2014.  The Panel has watched a recording of the meeting in question.

 

·           The Councillor clearly uses the phrase “cut out the crap”. The Panel feels that in the context of the meeting in question the use of these words was not sufficient to breach the Code of Conduct because, whilst the words were unfortunate, they were not directed at any individual and were an understandable expression of exasperation at the situation.

 

·           The second allegation was that the Councillor disclosed information given in confidence, namely the identities of the complainant, at the meeting in July 2014.  The recording of the meeting confirms that the Councillor identifies the complainant.

 

·           Identifying members of the public at a public meeting was not per se a breach of confidentiality as envisaged by Paragraph 8 of the Code of Conduct.  However, if a person has provided information to the Parish Council in circumstances which that person wishes to remain confidential then identifying that person in circumstances which could link that person to the confidential matter could be a breach of Paragraph 8.

 

·           The complainant had made complaints to the Parish Council which were due to be considered at the meeting.  The complainant had a reasonable expectation that the complaints would be dealt with in confidence.

 

·           The Panel considered that the manner in which the complainant was mentioned was sufficient to link her to the complaints and therefore was disclosing confidential information.

 

THE DECISION:

 

That:-

 

(1)     the Panel recommends to the Parish Council that:-

 

(a)     it does not uphold the allegation in respect of the language used at the meeting;

 

(b)     it does uphold the allegation in respect of disclosing confidential information and censures the Councillor, but that no further action is required.

 

(2)     the Parish Council be notified of the Panel’s findings.