Agenda item

Review of Code of Conduct for Members

This report sets out the need for the Council to review its Code of Conduct for Members and Arrangements for Dealing with Allegations of Breaches of the Code of Conduct for Members (taken together and referred to as “the Code”) set out in Part 4 Schedule 17 of the Constitution, and considers the proposal of setting up a working group of Members and Officers to review the Code and assist the Borough Solicitor in proposing amendments to a future Committee.

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by the Borough Solicitor and Monitoring Officer setting out the need for the Council to review its Code of Conduct for Members and Arrangements for Dealing with Allegations of Breaches of the Code of Conduct for Members set out in Part 4 Schedule 17 of the Constitution, and considers the proposal of setting up a working group of Members and Officers to review the Code and assist the Borough Solicitor in proposing amendments to a future Committee.

 

The Borough Solicitor and Monitoring Officer reminded Members that a report had been brought to Committee a year ago recommending that the Code should be subject to an annual review. He advised that a working group should be convened to go through the Code  and look at proposals for amendments, and was looking for nominations from the Committee.

 

Members welcomed the initial review and the introduction of an annual review as they felt that legislation and society changes needed to be reflected in the Code. They hoped that sexual harassment would be included in Best Practice recommendation 1, and that dyslexia would be included in Best Practice recommendation 10.

 

Members also wished to determine what would be considered acceptable language in the Chamber and reflect it in the Code.

 

Members were advised that the formation of a working group is not covered by the Constitution in the same way as a Task & Finish Group is and not subject to the same rules and therefore the group can agree on how the group works and where it is drawn from.

 

The Borough Solicitor advised that he would also be consulting the Independent Persons and Group Leaders hence the possible need for two meetings.

 

A Member felt that making it an annual review removed the suspicion that there was a specific purpose for reviewing the Code.

 

A Member felt that substitutes should be allowed to cover the eventuality of someone falling ill or isolating with Covid, but Members felt this would be covered by having 5 Members in the Working Group.

 

Members felt that holding the meeting on Teams should be an option, but only as a plan B

 

A Member felt that proportionality did not need to be observed in the Working Group.

 

A Member proposed an amendment to the Recommendation that the Working Group should only consist of three Members. This was seconded and a vote taken which was lost.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee agreed to establish a working group of five members (made up of the Chairman plus four other members of the Committee) to work with Officers to review the Code of Conduct for Members and Arrangements for Dealing with Allegations of Breaches of the Code of Conduct for Members and to consider proposals for amendment so that the Borough Solicitor & Monitoring Officer can report back to the Committee at a subsequent meeting in early 2022 with proposals for amendments for onward submission to the Policy & Organisation Board and Full Council for a change of the Constitution.

 

 

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