Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee
Wednesday 16th September 2020 7.30 pm

Contact: Alison Marston 

Items
No. Item

21.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting on 1 June 2020 (circulated separately).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 1 June 2020 were agreed as a correct record and noted by the Chairman.

 

The hard copies of minutes will be signed by the Chairman as soon as it is reasonably practicable of alternatively, an electronic signature will be arranged.

22.

DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS

To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on this Agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor P.Zukowskyj declared a non-pecuniary interest as appropriate by virtue of being a Member of Hertfordshire County Council.

23.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT & SOCIAL CARE OMBUDSMAN - ANNUAL REVIEW LETTER pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which detailed the annual summary of statistics prepared by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) on the complaints made to it about the Council  during the period 2019/20 (Appendix A). Members were asked to note the number of complaints and enquiries received, the decisions made and the outcome of any detailed investigations. The report also showed a breakdown of the upheld complaints and showed how these were remedied.

 

The Members noted that 25 complaints and enquiries were received by the LGO, with 19 final decisions made and 5 detailed investigations undertaken, with 3 complaints upheld.  This was in keeping with the previous year were 31 complaints and enquiries were received by the LGO, with 6 detailed investigations undertaken, with 3 complaints upheld. Members agreed that this indicated that the majority of complaints were resolved successfully internally without reference to the LGO. However, it was important to learn lessons from those cases where complaints were upheld, however small in number.

 

Members highlighted the third case which was upheld. Acknowledging that the case was resolved before the LGO took any action, Members however noted that the report made no reference to any lessons learned by the Council to reduce the risk of this incident being repeated.  It was agreed that the issue would be raised with the relevant Head of Service and update provided to Members.

 

Members highlighted the second case which was upheld, asking whether photographs could be taken of missed bins given their relative rarity.  It was agreed that this suggestion would be fed back to the relevant Head of Service.

 

RESOLVED

 

The report was noted along with a recommendation for the next annual report to contain data to allow Members to compare year on year figures and identify any trends.

24.

SURVEILLANCE UPDATE 2020 pdf icon PDF 112 KB

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.

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which provided Members with an update on the Council’s policy and use of surveillance powers. Members noted that the Council has powers to investigate a range of criminal offences and like all local authorities is able to utilise powers to undertake surveillance to assist with those investigations in certain prescribed circumstances. It was important to ensure a robust governance framework was in place and these powers were only used in line with the law and the Council’s own policy.

 

Members were informed that since their last update the Council had not had to authorise the use of any covert surveillance. 

 

Members noted the ambitious programme of RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) awareness training which had begun, but whose roll out had been curtained by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless 276 staff members had been trained, with the aim to ensure all staff who have access to a Council computer/internet enabled devise and the online space are RIPA aware. The Council’s induction course, which all new starters attend, has also been updated to include information about RIPA and the online space so that when colleagues commence employment with the Council they are made RIPA aware.   

 

The Members also noted that it was likely that the Council would receive an in person audit as part of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s (IPCO’s) cycle of audit of relevant authorities.

 

RESOLVED

 

The report was noted, with Members specifically congratulating Officers for their efforts with regards to training, stating that ‘prevention was better than cure’.

25.

WORK PROGRAMME 2020/21

Verbal update on the work programme for the committee for 2020/21.

Minutes:

Members were reminded that at the last meeting the Committee had considered whether the November meeting should go ahead if no business was planned.  However, Members received confirmation that the November meeting would go ahead, with the Council’s Anti-fraud and Corruption Policies being brought to that meeting. Members also received confirmation that the last Committee meeting of the municipal year is scheduled in February.