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Contact: Gemma Stokley
tel.no.: 020 7332 3414  Email: gemma.stokley@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.

2.

MEMBERS' DECLARATIONS UNDER THE CODE OF CONDUCT IN RESPECT OF ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Minutes:

There were no declarations.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

ORDER OF THE COURT OF COMMON COUNCIL pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To receive the Order of the Court of Common Council appointing the Committee dated 25 April 2019 (TO FOLLOW).

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 3.

Minutes:

The Committee received the Order of the Court of Common Council of 25 April 2019 (separately circulated and tabled at the meeting) appointing the Committee and setting its terms of reference for the ensuing year.

 

RECEIVED.

 

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

To elect a Chairman in accordance with Standing Order 29.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 4.

Minutes:

The Committee proceeded to elect a Chairman in accordance with Standing Order No. 29. 

 

A list of Members eligible to stand was read and, with both Ann Holmes and Barbara Newman expressing willingness to serve, a ballot was held.

 

Votes were cast as follows:                Ann Holmes                        7 votes

                                                            Barbara Newman                5 votes

 

Ann Holmes was therefore duly elected Chairman for the ensuing year and took the Chair. The Chairman thanked the Committee for their support.

 

VOTE OF THANKS

 

Proposed by Barbara Newman;

Seconded unanimously;

 

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY:

 

That the Members of the Standards Committee wish to place on record their sincere appreciation to

 

Oliver Arthur Wynlayne Lodge

 

for the courteous and conscientious manner in which he has carried out the duties of Chairman of this Committee since May 2016 and the leadership he has shown in steering it through a significant period of change over the past three years.

 

SOON after his appointment as Chairman, the decision to commission an independent review of the City Corporation's standards framework was taken in an attempt to re-establish the standing of the Standards Committee in the Court. This review resulted in a number of recommendations with those that were carried altering the composition of the Committee, the role of its Independent Persons and the way in which it handles complaints. A revised Code of Conduct and Guidance to Members came into effect in March 2018.

 

MORE recently, Mr Lodge oversaw a revision to the organisation’s Dispensations Policy and Guidance, with a view to providing an enhanced level of consistency, of requisite information about disclosable pecuniary interests and of the regulations around such interests and dispensations. The new requirements came into effect as of 1st March 2019.

 

THE Committee also examined how best to promote greater transparency and consistency in terms of both

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

ELECTION OF DEPUTY CHAIRMAN

To elect a Deputy Chairman in accordance with Standing Order 30.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 5.

Minutes:

The Committee proceeded to elect a Deputy Chairman in accordance with Standing Order No. 30. 

 

A list of Members eligible to stand was read and, with Caroline Addy, Mary Durcan and Barbara Newman expressing willingness to serve, a ballot was held.

 

Votes were cast as follows:                Caroline Addy                     8 votes

                                                            Mary Durcan                       3 votes

                                                            Barbara Newman                1 vote

 

Caroline Addy was therefore duly elected Deputy Chairman for the ensuing year and took the Chair.

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to give thanks to those other Members who had now left the Committee – Christopher Boden, Deputy Kevin Everett, Alderman David Graves, Mark Greenburgh, Michael Hudson and Oliver Sells, QC. She went on to welcome those Members who were newly appointed to the Committee – Randall Anderson, Henry Colthurst, Nicholas Cooke, QC, Mary Durcan, Alderman Susan Langley, Vivienne Littlechild and Barbara Newman.

 

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To agree the public minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2019.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 6.

Minutes:

The public minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2019 were considered and approved as a correct record.

 

MATTERS ARISING

Election of Deputy Chairman of Dispensations Sub Committee (page 11) – The Town Clerk reported that, following the resignation of Mark Greenburgh, there was a vacancy for one of the two Deputy Chairmen of the Dispensations Sub Committee. The Town Clerk reported that expressions of interest had been received from both Henry Colthurst and Randall Anderson to fill the position and that a ballot was therefore necessary.

 

Randall Anderson indicated that he wished to withdraw at this stage. Henry Colthurst was therefore appointed as one of the two Deputy Chairmen of the Dispensations Sub Committee for the ensuing year.

 

RESOLVED – That, being the only Member expressing a willingness to serve, Henry Colthurst be appointed as one of the two Deputy Chairmen of the Dispensations Sub Committee for the ensuing year.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

MINUTES OF HEARING SUB (STANDARDS) AND DISPENSATIONS SUB COMMITTEES pdf icon PDF 90 KB

(a) To receive the public minutes of a Hearing Sub (Standards) Committee

Meeting held on 1 March 2019.

 

(b) To receive the public minutes of Dispensation Sub (Standards) Committee meetings held on –

(i) 1 February 2019; and

(ii) 1 April 2019.

 

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 7.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The public minutes of the Hearing Sub (Standards) Committee meeting held on 1 March 2019 and the public minutes of the Dispensations Sub (Standards) Committee meetings held on 1 February 2019 and 1 April 2019 were received.

 

The Chairman clarified that a further Hearing date relating to the case covered at the 1 March 2019 meeting of the Hearing Sub Committee was still to be confirmed. She added that a new member of the Panel would also need to be established as one of the Members who had previously been involved had not been returned to the Standards Committee.

 

The Town Clerk confirmed that Members would be contacted regarding availability for a future Hearing in due course.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

outstanding actions pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Report of the Town Clerk.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 8.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Town Clerk setting out updates on a number of outstanding actions.

 

Code of Conduct

A Co-opted Member reported that they had consulted the website earlier this morning and had searched ‘complaints’. She expressed concern that information around how to make a complaint about a Member was not easily accessible and highlighted the need for this to be more clearly signposted in future.

 

Other Members agreed with this point and highlighted that the relevant complaint form was not only difficult to locate on the website but was also not user friendly. It was currently a PDF form located in the midst of another document. Members requested that users be able to download the form as a Word document going forward.

 

 A Member referred to the wider corporate project currently being undertaken to replace the public website and suggested that these points be fed in to the work around this.

 

The Chairman stated that she had stressed the importance of ease of access to these documents on many occasions and asked that this now be taken forward as a priority.

 

Annual reminder to Members on updating registered interests

A Member suggested that any communications sent to Members around this should be clearly worded with all Members seriously encouraged to update their registers in a timely manner.

 

A Member questioned whether this exercise could be undertaken in conjunction with the Chamberlain’s related party transactions exercise in future years. The Town Clerk reported that the annual update to Members’ registered interests was undertaken as part of the new municipal year whilst the related party transactions exercise was aligned with the end of the financial year. For this reason, the two needed to remain as separate processes.

 

RECEIVED.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Draft Annual Report of the Standards Committee pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Report of the Town Clerk.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 9.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Town Clerk setting out its Draft Annual Report for onward submission to the Court of Common Council.

 

A Member referred to the strong views expressed by the wider Court of Common Council around the work of the Standards Committee as well as it’s constitution and the tenure of some of those appointed. He questioned whether this needed to be reflected in some way within the report or its submission delayed.

 

Another Member stated that he felt that this was unnecessary and emphasised that the report was intended as an update on the work of the Committee over the past 12 months. He recognised that the Committee were continuing to address a number of issues but was of the view that this should not allowed to hold up the submission of the annual report in any way given that the Committee were obliged to produce this each year.

 

A Member accepted that the report should be submitted to the Court of Common Council in July 2019 as was customary but underlined the need to add some text to recognise the issues that had been raised by the Court and the work being undertaken to address these. Members were supportive of this approach and the inclusion of a paragraph to recognise that there continued to be a degree of dispute on a number of matters that would inform the work of the Committee going forward and around which there were ongoing discussions.

 

The Town Clerk clarified that the annual report was intended to be backwards looking and suggested that any ongoing discussions/work around the issues raised by the Court of Common Council in recent months could be highlighted by the Chairman orally in her introduction to provide Members with the necessary assurances. The Co-opted Members

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Review of Local Government Ethical Standards by the Committee on Standards in Public Life pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Report of the Comptroller and City Solicitor.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 10.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Comptroller and City Solicitor requiring Members to review how well the City Corporation’s current arrangements match the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life around the promotion and maintenance of high standards of conduct by public office holders in local government and to consider any changes to existing processes that may be desirable.

 

The Chairman stated that the Committee would consider a future report on this containing more detailed recommendations and specific proposals once the Government’s response to a number of the points raised had been received and any required legislative changes were implemented. There were, however, some recommendations that could be adopted by individual local authorities sooner. The Committee were asked to highlight areas of interest and particular recommendations that they would like to see brought back for further consideration.

 

The Comptroller signposted the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) as the most significant national event regarding Standards since the introduction of the Localism Act 2011. He went on to highlight that many local authorities appeared to be grappling with similar issues to the City Corporation around matters such as disclosable pecuniary interests and Section 31 of the Localism Act. He was of the view that the recommendations within the report were likely to occupy the Standards Committee’s work for the municipal year ahead. He urged Members to take the time to read the appended report in its entirety.

 

The Comptroller and City Solicitor acknowledged that whilst many of the CSPL’s recommendations, summarised at appendix 2, were for Government consideration, there were also some matters that the City Corporation might want to take a view on. There were also a number of potential ‘quick wins’ which could be implemented immediately if Members so wished, such as

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Co-opted Member Vacancy pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Report of the Town Clerk.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 11.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Town Clerk requesting that Members note the vacancy that now exists for a Co-opted Member of the Standards Committee following the recent resignation of Mark Greenburgh and to determine what action, if any, to take at this stage in terms of re-appointing to this vacancy.

 

In response to questions, the Chairman and Officers clarified why the decision to retain four Co-opted Members of the Committee had been taken and was still relevant. The Chairman reported that two different Co-optees were needed to sit on the two separate complaints stages – assessment and hearing. It was also not unusual for there to be more than one complaint progressing at the same time and for their attendance to be required at relatively short notice. Members were satisfied that the number of Co-optees appointed to the Committee should remain at four.

 

Members were therefore of the view that the appointment process should commence as soon as possible.

 

A Co-opted Member again suggested that consideration be given to the inclusion of one of the existing Co-optees on the Selection Panel in an observer capacity. This suggestion was supported by the Committee and it was also felt useful for the existing Co-opted Member to be able to contribute to the deliberations following interviews and to be able to feed in to the questions ahead of the interview process.

 

RESOLVE – That the Committee note the vacancy and request that the Town Clerk commence the recruitment process as soon as possible.

 

 

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Informal Meeting of the Standards Committee 03/04/2019 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Report of the Town Clerk (TO FOLLOW).

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 12.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a separately circulated report of the Town Clerk setting out the main points raised by Members at an informal meeting of the Standards Committee held on 3 April 2019 following the resignation of a Co-opted Member of the Committee and calling for wider discussion amongst the Committee on these.

 

The Deputy Chairman stated that she felt that there had been a significant amount of unfairness in terms of the treatment of all Members of the Standards Committee, but particularly its Co-opted Members in recent months. She expressed particular concerns around matters being raised at the Court of Common Council, in public session, where Co-opted Members had no opportunity to respond. Wider concern was also expressed around the fact that Members were able to put a Motion to the Court asking for the removal of a Member from a Committee without the Committee in question receiving prior notice of this or being given the ability to address concerns. This often meant that the Court were not provided with all of the necessary facts or recommendations from relevant Committees/Officers. The Chairman agreed that this was something that needed further consideration.

 

A Co-opted Member stated that there seemed to be a need for the wider Court to be educated as to the role of Co-opted Members in general. He went on to question the appropriate use of the Corporation’s email system and whether recent emails had been in breach of the organisation’s fair use policy. He hoped that this matter would be addressed. Members agreed that there should be sanctions in place around this behaviour in the same way that there would be for many Members acting in their professional capacities. The Chairman underlined that this should be viewed as a reputational risk not only to those individuals engaging

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Questions on matters relating to the work of the Committee

Minutes:

There were no questions.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Any Other Business that the Chairman considers urgent pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

PETITION OF RESIDENTS OF THE CITY OF LONDON REGARDING THE CITY CORPORATION’S CURRENT “STANDARDS” POLICY AND PRACTICE

The Committee considered a separately circulated report of the Town Clerk asking that Members consider the petition referred to them by the Court of Common Council.

 

Mary Durcan and Barbara Newman wished to place on record that they were signatories of the petition.

 

The Chairman stated that, given the petition was based on criticism of current policy, her main concern was around how much detail on the current policy signatories were actually given. A Member commented that he had been personally informed by a resident who was approached to sign that signatories were provided with no information and when this was questioned, details were refused.

 

The Chairman stated that the recommendation of the Town Clerk was that this matter should now be referred back to Officers to report back on to the Standards Committee. Further discussions could then be had at this point. The Chairman suggested it might be useful, meanwhile, for her to send a short letter to signatories, which sought to address some apparent confusion regarding policy. Since the vast majority of signatories were residents from the Barbican or Golden Lane Estates, this could be done easily by using their own communication channels; only a few dozen residents would need to be written to individually. It was hoped that this may provide some clarity going forward and help to underline that a major external review of the City Corporation’s Standards Regime had only recently taken place and that the new Dispensations regime had only been in operation for 2 months and would be subject to an annual review.

 

The Committee unanimously supported this suggestion and suggested that the letter be drafted by the Chairman in consultation with the Deputy Chairman and

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC

MOTION – That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of the Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act.

 

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 15.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of the Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act.

 

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

NON-PUBLIC MINUTES

To agree the non-public minutes of the inquorate meeting held on 25 January 2019.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 16.

Minutes:

The non-public minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2019 were considered and approved as a correct record.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

NON-PUBLIC MINUTES OF HEARING SUB (STANDARDS)

To receive the non-public minutes of a Hearing Sub (Standards) Committee

Meeting held on 1 March 2019.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 17.

Minutes:

The non-public minutes of the Hearing Sub (Standards) Committee meeting held on 1 March 2019 were received.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

NON-PUBLIC QUESTIONS ON MATTERS RELATING TO THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE

Minutes:

There were no questions raised in the non-public session.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS THAT THE CHAIRMAN CONSIDERS URGENT AND WHICH THE COMMITTEE AGREES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED WHILST THE PUBLIC ARE EXCLUDED

Minutes:

A question regarding the panel membership at a recent meeting of the Dispensations Sub (Standards) Committee held on 1 April 2019 was raised.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

 


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