Venue: Committee Rooms 2 and 3, Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH
Contact: A. Murray Democratic Services Officer
To receive and, if so determined, to agree as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 17 October 2018.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held 17 October be agreed as an accurate record and signed by the Chair.
To receive a report from the Corporate Director of Governance and Community Strategy.
For this item Members had been sent a covering report, the full Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) report, and a review of the full report which had been written by the Association of Democratic Service Officers (ADSO). The Monitoring Officer then gave a brief overview of the purpose of the review which had looked at all areas of standards regimes across the country.
The Committee were told that responses that the CSPL review had found that standards were generally high within Council’s and that the policies, procedures, and practices in place were sufficient in most cases. However, the review had highlighted issues in some areas of practice including bullying and harassment, declarations of interest, declarations of gifts and hospitality, the increasing complexity of decision making, and transparency around decision making and complaints.
The report had a total of 26 recommendations that impacted on a wide range of areas of Council procedures from the Code of conduct to the support that they offered to Parish Councils. The Monitoring officer informed the Committee that the majority of the recommendations required further action by central government for them to become legal requirements.
Within Trafford’s response to the consultation that formed part of the review the Committee had indicated their main concern was the lack of sanctions available to the Council when there was a breach of the Code of Conduct. The Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that Recommendation 16 stated that Council’s should be given the power to suspend a Councillor for up to 6 months. Recommendation 17 asked the Government to clarify other sanctions regarding the access to the Council property. Recommendations 10, 12, 13, and 14 covered elements of the process of sanctioning and measures that a councillor could use to make their case against such sanctions.
An Independent Member asked how the report changed the distinction between how Councillors acted in their official capacity and in their personal life. The Monitoring officer explained that if the recommendations were accepted it would change the burden with respect to whether a Councillor was acting in their official capacity or not. As it stood it was the complainant who had to prove that the Councillor was acting in their official capacity whereas the recommendations would require that the Councillor would have to prove that they were not acting in their official capacity at the time of the incident.
A Committee Member noted that the Council were already meeting a number of the recommendations. However, there was one recommendation regarding the disclosure of Councillors Address which they were aware Trafford had not adopted. The Councillor then detailed their own experience where they had received a threatening letter through the mail and asked if this was something that the Council could implement prior to government acceptance of the recommendation or if the Council could support the implementation of the recommendation. The Monitoring Officer responded that if a Councillor had reason to believe that they were at risk by their address being publically available ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
To receive an update from the Corporate Director of Governance and Community Stratgey.
The Monitoring Officer went through the action plan that had been circulated with the agenda. The Committee were informed of all the areas of work that that had been completed. The e- bulletin, which was one of two remaining outstanding actions, was to be implemented in the new municipal year. The other item that was still to be completed was the adjustment to motions at full Council. The Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that they were working on creating an informal protocol and that this was to be in place for the new municipal year.
The webcasting of all Council Committee meetings, with the exception of those which contained confidential information, was up and running each, with each Committee having had at least one meeting broadcast. The Committee had been provided with a list of viewing figures for the webcasts up to the time of the meeting which showed that the webcasts had received over 1600 views over the three months it had been running. The Committee were told that by webcasting the meetings the Council was going beyond their statutory obligations for transparency. This meant that when the Council did not webcast due to having part two information or when there were technical issues preventing a webcast the Council was not failing to meet their obligations.
.A Committee Member asked whether the views were just hits on the website or actual views. The Democratic and Scrutiny Officer responded that the numbers which had been given to the Committee were just the number of hits that had been received. The Committee were informed that through the Council’s YouTube Channel there were a full set of analytics available for each webcast including the total watch time and average view length which could be provided to the Committee if they wanted them.
RESOLVED: That the update be noted.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLEDGE
To receive a verbal update from the Corporate Director of Governance and Community Strategy.
The Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that the social media pledge was going to form part of the Council’s communications strategy. A copy of the pledge was to be left on Councillors seats for the first meeting of the new municipal year to encourage them all to sign up. By making the pledge part of the communications strategy the pledge would be read within the wider context, rather than in isolation, and so reduce ambiguity about what the pledge related to.
RESOLVED: That the update be noted.
MONITORING OFFICERS REPORT
To receive a verbal report from the Monitoring Officer.
The Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that she had attended and observed an instance of each Committee’s meetings this year apart from the licensing Committee and the Health and Wellbeing Board. The Monitoring Officer was satisfied that the Council’s decision making process had performed well during the year and assured the Committee that Trafford had a robust process in place. During the year there had been no non-compliant decisions reported to Council. The overall standards within the Council had been excellent. The Monitoring Officer spoke about the fortunate position that Trafford was in with regards to the excellent conduct of Trafford Councillors as shown by the minimal number of Complaints received. The constitutional changes had mainly be completed as covered earlier in the meeting, although the group would be continuing into the new year.
RESOLVED: That the update be noted.