Agenda and draft minutes

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Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 

No. Item


Election of Chair and Vice-Chair


Cllr. Barnes was elected Chair, and Cllr. Oliver was elected Vice-Chair.




Apologies were received from Cllr. Tailford and Martin Jauch (Independent Person).


Declarations of Interest


There were none.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 293 KB


Cllr. Savage noted that in item 4, his concern that that Members had not had sight of the confidential findings of the investigation needed amending to read ‘some Members’.

With that change in mind, the minutes of the 8th December 2021 meeting were approved and signed as a correct record.


A unified Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Report of the Interim Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer began by outlining the guidance on best practice with regard to Codes of Conduct. Since the requirement for a council to have one came into existence, there had been much discussion as to both the content and the geographical applicability of the code. No requirement for the operation of a nationwide code had ever been made, and so councils had been expected to generate their own codes based on the requirements of the Nolan principles.

He added that the Monitoring Officers from all the local authorities in Gloucestershire had been meeting virtually to consider whether it was possible to describe a single model for a Code of Conduct that could be adopted by all the councils in the group. These discussions had also included the Chief Executive Officer of the Gloucestershire Association of Town and Parish Councils, and the model code culminating from them had been circulated before the committee.

The principal benefits of a uniform code included ensuring a consistency of approach to setting behaviours, and meant that the public would have further confidence in a situation where there was no ‘compare and contrast’ exercise between the codes of the different bodies. A uniform code would also ensure that, where a district or borough councillor might also be a county councillor and/or a parish councillor, they would be able to operate within one Code of Conduct.

He acknowledged that there might be some minor variations brought about by specific council issues and, in respect of Stroud’s full committee system, there could be procedural variations as to how the code operated. However, in respect of the requirements made of councillors in the various local authorities, be they county, borough, district or parish, it was proposed those would be uniformly applied. The other consideration was that further requirements as additions to the code might emanate from central government and these would have to be picked up in the code in the future, recognising the role of the Standards Committee in considering any necessary changes.

The layout and language of the proposed code was in the form already used in the existing Cheltenham code, so the change to the new code would be minimal. The committee was asked to consider the draft code and, if felt appropriate, recommend it for adoption subject to any final changes that did not affect the overall obligations contained in the draft. If approved, the matter would go forward to a meeting of the Constitution Working Group in September, who were presently considering general changes to the council’s constitution – of which the Code of Conduct formed a central part. The code would then proceed to Full Council for final approval.

Members approved the report with one abstention.


Hearing process for Complaints pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Report of the Interim Monitoring Officer


The Monitoring Officer introduced the report, which invited Members to consider if there were any areas in respect of the preparation for and the hearing of a complaint that would assist in discharging the obligations placed on the Committee of ensuring a transparent process and decisions warranted on the available facts.

The previous report on the agenda proposed the adoption of a unified code, but beyond this there was the question of the procedural steps necessary for a hearing. In respect of determining which complaints came forward for a full hearing, the council operated a flow chart for categorising and clarifying complaints which centred on the first principle of trying to resolve them amicably by use of mediation by the Monitoring Officer whenever possible. This report proposed that, in circumstances where a hearing became unavoidable, the Independent Persons would prepare a precis of their views for use of the committee during the hearing focusing on their concerns. This could be supplied as an appendix to the main report from the Monitoring or Investigating Officer.

The report also asked the committee to consider whether a further addition to the pre-hearing process should include a request to any third party organisations holding relevant decision notes to be approached to provide a written record of those decisions. This would of course be subject to any data protection considerations and the procedural rules the third party organisation may have.

He noted that complaints which proceeded through the various stages, including the prospect of an amicable solution, coming to a point where they required a full hearing by the committee were few and far between. Nevertheless, if there were proposals that Members believed would assist them to discharge their hearing duties, they should be investigated.

One Member was concerned that the structure of the complaints process allowed complainants to effectively be the accuser, judge and jury at the same time, and suggested taking an equally unified approach to assessing the validity of breaches of the Code of Conduct. If an allegation was made against a councillor from a particular authority, then that should be assessed by councillors who did not have a partisan or personal interest in the case. All councillors needed to have confidence that the Code of Conduct was being applied fairly and appropriately, as did the public.

The Monitoring Officer felt that this suggestion was logical, as it would make sense to have a similarly unified approach to responding to departures from the code. It would need to be agreed with all other involved parties, but it was certainly a matter that the incoming Monitoring Officer could discuss in depth with colleagues from other authorities.

One Member was happy to support the idea but warned of the potential risks of Cheltenham-based complaints being settled outside of the town. Another Member agreed that while marking your own homework was not appropriate, neither was it appropriate for your political opponents to do it.

One Member acknowledged the risk of the process being politicised by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Any other business


There was none.


Date of next meeting

26 October 2022


28th October 2022.