Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Friday, 15th March, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Chamber, County Hall, Carmarthen. SA31 1JP.. View directions

Contact: Martin Davies  01267 224059

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mrs. J. James and Cllrs. R. James and G.B. Thomas.

2.

DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no declarations of personal interest.

3.

MINUTES - 28TH JANUARY 2018 pdf icon PDF 360 KB

Minutes:

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on the 28th January 2019 be signed as a correct record.

4.

APPLICATION FOR DISPENSATION BY COUNCILLORS JEAN LEWIS, HAZEL EVANS, JOSEPH DAVIES, ALUN LENNY, KIM BROOM, ANDREW JAMES, ARWEL DAVIES, ANN DAVIES, EIRWYN WILLIAMS, MANSEL CHARLES, TYSSUL EVANS, KEN HOWELL, GARETH THOMAS AND CEFIN CAMPBELL pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

With reference to Minute 3 of the meeting held on the 12th November 2018 the Committee considered applications submitted by County Councillors Jean Lewis, Hazel Evans, Joseph Davies, Alun Lenny, Kim Broom, Andrew James, Arwel Davies, Ann Davies, Eirwyn Williams, Mansel Charles, Tyssul Evans, Ken Howell, Gareth Thomas and Cefin Campbell for the grant of  dispensation under the provisions of the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations to speak and make written representations at meetings of Carmarthenshire County Council in respect of any Council business relating to farming and farming related matters.

 

It was reported that dispensation was sought by each Councillor in that they could potentially have a personal interest in such business by virtue of paragraphs 10(2) of the Members Code of Conduct in that they were all either actively engaged in farming in the county, owned farm land which was actively farmed by others or had close personal associates who were actively engaged in farming.

 

The members’ interests were also prejudicial as a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard that interest as being so significant that they would be likely to prejudice the councillors’ judgement of the public interest.

 

The Councillors had accordingly requested that they be granted dispensation on two grounds set out in the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001, namely:-

 

(1)       The Councillors’ participation in such matters would not damage public confidence in the conduct of the Council’s business;

(2)       That their participation is justified by their particular expertise.

 

It was noted that the committee had previously granted dispensations in respect of farming related interests to members of the Council on 12/11/2018, 28/09/2017, 03/06/2016, 03/12/2015 and 29/07/2015 and that all fourteen named councillors had utilised dispensations previously granted to them by the Standards Committee (or by the Monitoring Officer under delegated authority from the committee) to speak upon a Notice on Motion put before full council in respect of a farming related issue.

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED

 

4.1      that dispensation be granted under Regulations 2(d) and (f) of the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations to County Councillors Jean Lewis, Hazel Evans, Joseph Davies, Alun Lenny, Kim Broom, Andrew James, Arwel Davies, Ann Davies, Eirwyn Williams, Mansel Charles, Tyssul Evans, Ken Howell, Gareth Thomas and Cefin Campbell to SPEAK, BUT NOT VOTE, AND TO MAKE WRITTEN REPRESENTATIONS at meetings of Carmarthenshire County Council in respect of any Council business relating to farming and farming related matters generally, until the 31st May 2022;

4.2      that the above mentioned Councillors be advised that they should  seek further legal advice and, if necessary, apply for another dispensation in the event that they wish to participate in council business which specifically relates to or is likely to affect them or close personal associates’ farming activities or farm land.

 

 

5.

CODE OF CONDUCT TRAINING 2019 pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was reminded that for several years it had arranged training sessions on the Members’ Code of Conduct for Town and Community Councillors. In accordance with that practice, it considered the content proposed for the 2019 sessions with the inclusion of a section on the Nolan Principles, a new set of case studies and slight changes to the sections on personal interests and dispensations. Members also discussed in detail options for significantly increasing the number of individual councillors who receive such training following previously expressed concern that less than 50% of Town and Community Councillors had received code training in the last 5 years.

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that:

 

5.1   the content suggested for the 2019 Members Code of Conduct Training Sessions for Town and Community Councillors be endorsed;

5.2         arrangements be made to hold a session in Carmarthen, Llanelli and the Llandeilo/Llandovery area in July (avoiding the week of the Royal Welsh show) with delegates invited to attend the most convenient session for them;

5.3         invitation letters,  emphasising the importance of the code, the increase in code complaints in Carmarthenshire in 2018/2019 and the benefits of attending training, be accompanied with a ‘return slip’  for the recipient to indicate which session, if any, they wish to attend;

5.4         Invitations to the sessions be extended to County councillors;

5.5         a report detailing the responses received be submitted to the June meeting;

5.6         feedback forms be amended to include questions regarding the timing of sessions and venue and seeking views on alternative training methods (but without suggesting any specific alternatives);

5.7     following the abovementioned sessions the clerks of all Town and Community councils be provided with the materials utilised with a request that they include the discussion of those materials as a formal agenda item at their Council’s next meeting and that they also be advised that members of the Standards Committee may decide to attend a small sample of those meetings to observe the proceedings.

 

 

6.

CODE COMPLIANCE DATA pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Minutes:

Further to minute 9 of the meeting held on the 7th December 2018 at which the

annual Code Compliance Report had been received the Committee considered what further data it should seek to obtain and how best to improve the data it received, particularly in relation to the number of declarations of interest and whether any councillors had received code training.The committee also considered receiving similar data in respect of County Councillors.

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that

 

6.1           code compliance requests be sent to all Councils reflecting both the legal requirement to hold information regarding declarations of interest and to publish agendas and minutes and whether a council responded in 2018/2019;

 

6.2           further reports detailing the responses received and the possible need for targeted follow-up letters be presented to the Committee at the meetings scheduled for June and September 2019;

 

6.3           all responses be collated into a report for the December 2019 meeting together with comparable data for County Councillors.

 

 

7.

ANY OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.