Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee - Tuesday, 6th February, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  0115 914 8277


No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the Meeting held on 14 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 116 KB


Ms White said that she was an Independent Member of the Committee, rather than an Independent Person, as recorded in the minutes.


With the above correction, the minutes of the meeting held on 14 November 2022 were approved as a true record and signed by the Chairman.


Councillor Plant referred to the Code of Conduct training and the Monitoring Officer confirmed that this had been provided for Members and had also been incorporated into the Induction Programme for Councillors following the elections last year.


Cases and work update 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer presented the Cases and Work Update – 2023-24 report which was a regular report updating Committee on complaints received since the last meeting and on training undertaken or identified as being of assistance to Councillors in understanding the Standard’s regime and the actions taken to meet those training needs.


The Monitoring Officer said that thirteen complaints had been considered or were in the process of being considered during the period. She referred the Group to the table at Appendix A which set out the nature of the complaints and the decision or action taken and she confirmed that all had been discussed with the Independent Persons. She explained that details were not disclosed for complaints which did not come under the Code of Conduct.


The Monitoring Officer said that the Council had committed to support the LGA Debate not Hate campaign and that the Leader has signed their public statement on behalf of the Council. She said that it was for this committee to decide how this would be taken forward by the Council.


The Monitoring Officer said that this was an important topic as many Councillors were declaring that they would not stand again for election due to the abuse they had received and she noted that the LGA were campaigning for Councillor addresses to be withheld from the public. She said that she would report on any progress at the next meeting.


In relation to training, the Monitoring Officer explained that Induction Training had been made available to all Councillors following the elections in May 2023, including introductory training about Standards. The Induction Training had been attended by 28 Councillors, with only four new Councillors being unable to attend. All had been offered the opportunity to have catch up training with Officers separately, and presentation materials from the training sessions were available to all Councillors on their Intranet. She confirmed that the Standards Training had been well attended with only one Standards Committee member being unable to attend.


In relation to the Member Code of Conduct, the Monitoring Officer confirmed that the Committee was required to review it on an annual basis and as such it would be an agenda item at the next meeting of this Committee. She said that the Code of Conduct had last been reviewed by a Working Group following publication of the LGA Model Code, and that the Working Group had recommended changes to more closely align the Rushcliffe Code with the LGA Model Code. She suggested that the Council update its Code when the LGA updated their Model Code but thought it prudent for the Council to continue to review its code annually to ensure that it remained fit for purpose.


The Monitoring Officer said that Members of the Group could suggest other items of business for this Committee to review or explore and any training that it may consider appropriate.


Councillor Plant asked about Code of Conduct training for parishes as she noted that many of the complaints  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Review of the Protocol on Councillor/Officer Relations pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer presented the Review of the Protocol on Councillor/Officer Relations report which provide an update on the operation and efficacy of the Protocol, including awareness of the Protocol by Councillors and any actions taken to improve that awareness.


The Monitoring Officer said that the Protocol was to be reviewed by Standards Committee at least once every four years to ensure that it remained fit for purpose. She said that the Council reviewed its entire Constitution on a yearly basis, which the Protocol formed part of, and that no changes had been made to the Protocol since its adoption. It was considered timely to revisit it now in light of the recent Peer Challenge and to also design a training resource specific to the Protocol to ensure that Councillors and Officers were aware of it and its application.


The Monitoring Officer said that every local authority should have its own written Statement or Protocol governing relations between Councillors and Officers.  She referred the Group to the Council’s Protocol at Appendix A which she had reviewed and considered to be aligned with the Council’s Code of Conduct. As such she did not propose any amendments at this time but said that if amendments were made to the Council’s Code of Conduct in the future, then a review would be required to ensure alignment of the Protocol with those changes.


The Monitoring Officer confirmed that a session on conduct and ethical standards had been included in the Councillor Induction Programme following the elections in May 2023, which had included reference to the Protocol. She said that new Officer Inductions also included reference to the Code of Conduct which included reference to the Protocol.


The Monitoring Officer said that the LGA had produced a Councillor Workbook which could be found at Appendix B and suggested that this could be used to inform a training session for both Councillors and Officers, to assist in understanding of each other’s roles and how best to assist each other to achieve the best outcomes for residents.


Ms White – Independent Member raised a number of points, including that both Officer and staff terminology was used in the Protocol, where reference was made to Officers reporting matters to senior managers she suggested that more information be provided as to what that senior should do about it, and where there was reference to signposting that more information be included about this including where and how to signpost. 


Members of the Group noted that there was much information provided in the Protocol and much for new Councillors to learn. The Group wondered whether too much was expected of new Councillors too quickly and whether it be more that they learned over time. Perhaps key information, such as the distinction between County, borough and parish functions, be provided and that signposting to information be provided as required.


Mr Richards – Independent Person said that the Protocol did not mention the relationship between Councillors and the Council as an organisation and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.