Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Montpellier Room - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Rachael Sanderson, Democracy Assistant 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Barnes.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillors Fisher and Wheeler declared an interest in agenda item 6 as they had both applied for dispensations.

 

The Monitoring Officer confirmed that although a Member might normally be expected to exclude themselves when declaring such an interest in a matter to be discussed, the Localism Act specified that no exclusion was required when considering the granting of a dispensation. It was therefore in order for both members to participate in the debate and vote on item 6. 

3.

MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING pdf icon PDF 37 KB

To approve the minutes of the last meetings held on 18 July 2013 and 3 September 2013

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the two previous meetings had been circulated with the agenda.

 

The chair advised members that in the minutes of 3 September 2013, the penultimate paragraph under section 4 should read "the dispensation should be until the end of 2013" rather than 2014 as was printed in the papers.

 

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2013 and 3 September 2013 as amended be agreed and signed as an accurate record.

4.

LOCALISM ACT 1972

The Monitoring Officer will provide a short verbal update on the implementation of the Conduct Regime.

Minutes:

In offering an update on the implementation of the new conduct regime, the Monitoring Officer advised that a number of parish Councillors had expressed concern about the publication of personal data on the internet as required by the Localism Act.  They felt that local people may be deterred from standing for election as Parish Councillors because of these requirements.  As the Committee was aware, the Monitoring Officer had written to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and separately to the Information Commissioner in August 2012, outlining her concerns in respect of data protection and human rights implications of the publication requirements and had received an acknowledgement but not a response from the DCLG.  In the meantime, the Register of Interest forms for the Borough and Parish Councillors had not yet been published on the internet.  Nevertheless, all Members had complied with the registration requirements and the hard copies of their declarations are held by the Monitoring Officer and are available for inspection. She had received some enquiries from the public and had made the data available for public inspection on request.

 

In view of the imminent parish and borough council elections in May 2014, she had written again to the DCLG chasing a response. She advised Members that there had been an error in the drafting of the Act in that it had excluded existing members from the registration of interests requirements. A follow-up guidance note from the DCLG had indicated their expectation that authorities would apply the requirements to existing Members but this has provided some justification for the decision not to publish the information. With regard to newly elected Members in May 2014, it would be reasonable to expect them to be fully aware of the requirements before they stood for election and therefore there would be little justification for not publishing their registers of interest forms on the website. 

 

Members asked whether other councils had followed the guidance and the Monitoring Officer confirmed that most authorities were now publishing their Registers of Interest on their websites. In Gloucestershire, only Tewkesbury and Cheltenham were not.

 

Members expressed concern about the lack of response from the DCLG and it was suggested that the local MP could be asked to raise a question in the House of Commons with the Cabinet Member responsible. It was agreed that this would be progressed and the Monitoring Officer would also enlist the help of the Local Government Association.  The Monitoring Officer advised Members that she was working on a guidance note which could be issued to Parish Council clerks ahead of the Parish elections.

5.

PLANNING CODE OF CONDUCT

The Monitoring Officer will provide a short verbal update on the progress of the Review of the Planning Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer provided a verbal update on the progress on the Review of the Planning Code of Conduct. She indicated that there had already been two meetings of the task group where they had considered a draft document in considerable detail.

 

One question which had considerably vexed the task group was the issue of whether elected Members should be able to attend a private meeting with the developers. The Monitoring Officer explained that the important factor was how a member of the public would view such a meeting and if a private meeting with developers was acceptable then there could be a case for objectors asking for a similar meeting with elected Members.

 

A Member thought such meetings should be allowed as elected Members should be able to keep an open mind.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that the task group were expecting to agree a final draft for consideration by this committee within the next three months.

6.

CBC CODE OF MEMBERS' CONDUCT - APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATIONS IN RESPECT OF INTERESTS pdf icon PDF 39 KB

To determine any Applications for Dispensations which may be made by CBC Councillors. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Borough Solicitor and Monitoring Officer introduced the report which had been circulated with the agenda.  The report was seeking determination by this committee of applications made by Members of the Borough Council who were also Gloucestershire County Councillors in order that they could participate in the business to be conducted at the Extraordinary meeting of the Council on 9 April 2014. The special meeting would be considering a report recommending approval of the pre-submission Joint Core Strategy (JCS). The plan included provision for housing and employment land some of which was currently owned by Gloucestershire County Council.

 

The Democratic Services Manager confirmed that all dual members had been contacted by e-mail by the Borough Solicitor and five dispensation requests had been received. Those for Councillors Tim Harman, Bernard Fisher, Klara Sudbury, Simon Wheeler and Chris Coleman had been circulated with the Applications for Dispensation report. A further reminder had been issued by email by the Borough Solicitor on Monday 7 April and Councillors Suzanne Williams and Colin Hay had now submitted their applications which were circulated at the meeting. Councillor Paul McLain had given his apologies for the Council meeting and no response had been received from Councillor David Prince.

The Borough Solicitor referred members to the potential grounds for granting dispensation which were set out in paragraph 2.1 of the report. She confirmed that all the dispensations being considered by the committee today were on the basis of 2.1c) i.e granting the dispensation is in the interests of persons living in the authority's area. Her advice as Monitoring Officer would be to grant the dispensations.

 

She emphasised that the Standards Committee had absolute discretion but should be able to justify any decision they made. Should they be minded to grant dispensations, they were also required to determine the period for whichthe dispensation has affect. As set out in paragraph 3.2, the period specified may not exceed four years. She advised Members that in view of the Borough elections in May 2014, the committee may want to take this into account when setting the period.

 

Regarding any possible late applications, she invited members to consider delegating authority to the Borough Solicitor and Monitoring Officer for granting dispensations to the one outstanding county council member submitting a late application provided it was on the same principles agreed today. A Member questioned the need for this delegation as they felt all councillors had been advised of the deadline. The Monitoring Officer suggested that it was in the interest of the public that their elected councillor should be able to participate in the debate. Another member suggested that some elected members were abusing the goodwill of Council in their attendance and not adhering to deadlines.  The Monitoring Officer advised that this was a matter of political group discipline for the group leaders to raise in their groups.

A Member referred to another member of Council who had made their views on the JCS very clear in the public arena and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 - EXEMPT INFORMATION

The Committee is recommended to approve the following resolution:

 

 “That in accordance with Section 100A(4) Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the remaining items of business as it is likely that, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, if members of the public are present there will be disclosed to them exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1, Schedule 12A (as amended) Local Government Act 1972, namely:  Information relating to an individual/likely to reveal the identity of an individual”.


 

 

Minutes:

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that in accordance with Section 100A(4) Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the remaining items of business as it is likely that, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, if members of the public are present there will be disclosed to them exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1, Schedule 12A (as amended) Local Government Act 1972, namely:  Information relating to an individual/likely to reveal the identity of an individual.

8.

EXEMPT MINUTES

To approve the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2013.

Minutes:

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2013 be agreed and signed as an accurate record.

9.

REVIEW OF COMPLAINTS

A report from the Monitoring Officer

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer gave a report on a review of complaints.

 

10.

Date of next meeting

11 July 2014

Minutes:

The next scheduled meeting is due to take place on Friday 11 July at 2.00 pm.