Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE
Contact: Gurdip Paddan
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting on 19 June 2018 (Circulated separately.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 19 June 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the work programme for 2018/19 municipal year.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the work programme which the Committee requested at the last meeting. The Committee had considered the following items throughout the municipal year:
· Promoting high standards of conduct by Members including dealing with complaints.
· Maintaining the Members Code of Conduct including monitoring its effectiveness and training.
· Maintaining oversight of the Council’s arrangements for dealing with complaints.
· Reviewing Council use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
· Considering the Annual Governance Statement.
· Reviewing the contents of policies/codes/protocols relating to standards of conduct.
It was proposed that a more structured work programme be created which would allow the statutory items to be considered, together with any other items that fall within the remit of the Standards Committee.
The following proposed work programme was considered:
· June 2018 – Local Code of Governance, Annual Governance Statement (AGS). The Committee considered this item on 19 June 2018.
· September 2018 – Work Programme, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) policy update, Bribery policy, Ombudsman Complaints.
· December 2018 – Anti-Fraud & Anti-Corruption Policy.
· February 2019 – Review of publication scheme, RIPA Policy update.
The Officer explained that the Ombudsman Annual Review letter received by the Council in July each year could be considered in a September meeting. Reports on the Council’s use of its powers under RIPA should be considered every six months so the September and February/March meeting would be appropriate. With regards to policy reviews these would be revised throughout the year as applicable.
The report noted the statutory requirement for the AGS and Ombudsman’s Annual Review letter to be considered by a relevant committee of the Council. This has currently been delegated by the Council to this Committee. With regards to reporting the Council’s use of RIPA there is no statutory requirement but appropriate for it to be discussed by Members, as evidence for when the Council is inspected by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner.
Members were advised that items could be added as required throughout the year. It was further suggested that quarterly updates of Member Development be reported to this Committee for information only.
It was noted that the Council’s Constitution was being reviewed and as each chapter is completed it would be presented to Council for approval before publication.
That the work programme for 2018/19 be approved.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), which details the number of complaints and enquiries received about the Council and the decisions that the Local Government Ombudsman made during the period.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), which detailed the number of complaints and enquiries received about the Council and the decisions that the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) made during the period 2017/2018. (Appendix A). The report also showed a breakdown of the upheld complaints and showed how these were remedied. Appendices B & C illustrated cases whereby recommendations from the LGO remedied the fault and those where the Council had offered satisfactory remedy during the local complaints process. The data included in the report had been published on the LGO’s website.
The Council had a duty to report to Members on adverse outcomes of complaints formally investigated by the LGO. Members considered the six complaints that were subject to a detailed investigation, three were upheld and full details of these decisions were attached to the report as Appendix D. The first two complaints of the three were understandable and the third raised concern in terms of the subject matter; relating to noise and anti-social behaviour complaint; leading to unjustified stress and hate crime.
Members asked what training had been provided to staff to avoid such incidents in the future and it was clarified that this issue related to a housing matter and that training should be provided to a wider audience. Officers explained that at the time of the incident there had been staff resource issues within the Team. Officers further explained that all the LGO complaints were detailed on their website. A copy of the training provided would be circulated to Committee Members.
The report was noted.
Report of Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), which provides Members with an update on the Council’s policy and use of surveillance powers. Members are asked to note the use of surveillance powers and to agree the revised policy in appendix A.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), which provided an update on the Council’s policy and use of surveillance powers. The Council has powers to investigate a range of criminal offences and like all local authorities it can utilise powers to undertake surveillance to assist with those investigations in certain prescribed circumstances.
Members considered the report and the revised Policy in Appendix A and it was noted that since the last inspection there had been one investigation and magistrates had granted the authorisation for surveillance.
Since the report was circulated there has been further three papers published headed:
1. Covert surveillance & property interference code of practice
2. Covert human intelligence sources code of practice
3. Code of practice for the investigation of protected electronic information
Members will receive a further updated revised policy once the above three documents have been incorporated.
The Chairman requested a copy of the report with track changes. Minor amendments were agreed.
That the report be noted and the revised policy (as at Appendix A) be accepted and recommended to Full Council that it is adopted and that the Constitution is updated to designate the Licensing Team Leader, as an additional ‘Authorising Officer’ for the purposes of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), as amended.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Anti-Fraud and Anti-Corruption policy that sets out the procedures that ensure that the Council is not involved in fraud and corruption. The need for an independent stand-alone policy specifically dealing with bribery has been identified. The purpose of this report is to enable the Committee to comment on and approve a proposed Anti-Bribery policy (Appendix A).
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Anti-Bribery Policy. The Council has already in place an Anti-Fraud and Anti-Corruption Policy that sets out the procedures that ensure that they are not involved in fraud and corruption. The need for an independent stand-alone policy specifically dealing with bribery had been identified. The purpose of this report was to enable the Committee to comment on and approve a proposed Anti-Bribery Policy (attached as Appendix A to the report).
The report noted that all organisations needed to assess whether they have adequate policies and procedures in place to ensure that as far as possible, they can demonstrate compliance with the Bribery Act 2010. The Council’s existing policies, processes and procedures do already go a long way to meeting this requirement but the adoption of a stand-alone Anti-Bribery Policy would ensure that the Council continues to follow best practice in this area.
Members considered the attached Anti-Bribery Policy and Procedures and asked the Officer to clarify some of the proposed amendments. One of the amendments was to remove the Gifts and Hospitality link and insert the hyperlink to Member Code of Conduct. Consideration was given to appropriate training that should be provided to Members and Officers in relation to gifts and hospitality. A question was raised in respect of the location of the Member’s Gifts and Hospitality Register. Officers advised that the information regarding accessing the Member’s Gifts and Hospitality Register would be circulated to Committee Members. It was agreed that the approved Policy would be shared with Parish Councils in the future. The Policy would also be available online.
That the Standards Committee make changes as necessary and recommend approval of the new Policy to Cabinet.