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Motions

(A)         To consider a Motion submitted by Graeme Harrower, concerning the establishment of a Working Party.

 

(B)         To consider a Motion submitted by Graeme Harrower, concerning the establishment of a Working Party.

 

(C)          By Robert Allan Merrett, Deputy

“That the Resolution of Thanks to Timothy Russell Hailes, Alderman and Pewterer and Neil Graham Morgan Redcliffe, Citizen and Basketmaker, the late Sheriffs of the City, passed by Common Hall on 1 October last, be presented in a form agreeable to them?”

Minutes:

(A)      The Town Clerk advised the Court that there were two sets of proposed amendments to Motion A, which were before Members, the first from Mr Harrower and the second from the Chair of Policy and Resources.

 

Mr Harrower sought leave of the Court to amend Motion A, which was seconded by Mr Bostock. A vote took place and the Motion was lost, the Town Clerk subsequently directed Members to the original Motion within the Court Summons.

 

Mr Harrower introduced the Motion to the Court, a Member raised a point of order that amendment had been rejected and therefore discussion should only focus on the original. Motion, as per the summons. Mr Harrower explained that the purpose of the Motion was for a working party to be formed which would consider how to resolve the issues with the dispensations policy and the Standards Committee; the working party would look to provide a resolution on when Members could speak and vote at Committee and would report back to the Court with their recommendations.

 

The Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee moved an amendment to the Motion which was before Members. Addressing the Court, the Chair explained that there was concern amongst Members and some residents as referenced by Mr Harrower, however a lengthy review of the Standards regime had only just taken place, the outcome of which was not yet fully implemented, the dispensations regime was still under review by the Standards Committee, and the proposed amendment to the Motion was a proportionate and balanced approach.

 

The Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee noted the difficult balancing act faced by the Standards Committee, in upholding the law and allowing Members to carry out their duties when representing their Wards, and the Court therefore requests the Committee adopt a position where Members would be granted a dispensation to speak but not vote on all matters concerning their Wards when they have an engaged disclosable pecuniary interest, other than when that interest would be directly and materially impacted by a decision of the Court, or one of its Committees.

 

The amendment proposed by the Chair of Policy and Resources was seconded by Deputy Bottomley who spoke in support of the proposed amendment.

 

A number of Members spoke to express their views on the proposed amendment:

·         Members noted that common sense should be applied when allowing Members to speak and vote, and Members had a personal responsibility to decide when it was not appropriate that they partake in decisions which could benefit them financially. Members commented they should be allowed to speak, but must disclose their interests and when there is a conflict, Members should not vote, particularly with regards to Planning and Licensing matters.    

·         Members commented that a draconian approach may have been enforced with regards to Members voting on matters, but Members must comply with the law. Legal advice had been sought and provided on a number of occasions and the next step should be for the Standards Committee to look at the process again.

·         Members noted that a comprehensive review of processes had just taken place with the outcomes being implemented and there was no need for a further review at this stage.

·         Some Members requested that the amendment be made stronger; the Standards Committee to look to implement a whole term agreement to allow Members to conduct their business properly, which was a process used by other Local Authorities. Members noted the disenfranchisement of the Residents Association and the importance of residents being assured that their elected representatives could speak and vote on matters. Some Members raised their concerns as to whether the Standards Committee could respond to the issues raised.

·         It was noted by some Members that the Barbican Residential element should be factored into the wider issue of dispensations and the standards framework, however Members were reminded of the relevant legislation that would need to be applied to all who live on an estate where the City of London Corporation owned the freehold and how this affected their ability to vote on matters concerning that estate.

·         Some Members noted the requests made regarding Members taking personal responsibility as to when they can speak or vote, but clear guidance should be issued and an appropriate dispensation policy should be in place.

 

Deputy Thompson raised a point of order requesting that the amended Motion be put to a vote, this was seconded by Mr Broeke. A vote took place and the amended Motion was carried.

 

The substantive Motion was then considered by the Court.

 

Further discussion took place, during which the following views were expressed:

·         A Member commented on the uniqueness of the Planning and Licensing Committees which differed to other City of London Corporation Committees. A question was raised as to whether the Planning Committee should no longer be a Ward Committee to remove the element of conflict.

·         The Chairman of Standards spoke in response to the discussion and noted that the Committee welcomes input, but whatever the expectations may be, the legal limitations must not be lost sight of. It was added that if Members required guidance regarding an engaged disclosable pecuniary interest, the Comptroller and City Solicitor would be able to provide advice.

·         A Member spoke against asking the Standards Committee to look at the process again, but instead to put in place a new system.

 

Mr Anderson proposed the following amendment; “when the DPI is a lease or tenancy from the City, Members may vote when the matter does not relate particularly to the Members’ lease or tenancy”. Mr Anderson spoke to provide the reasons behind why this amendment was being proposed and the relevant legislation applicable.

 

Discussion took place and in response to the suggestion that this proposal be considered by the Standards Committee as part of their review, Mr Anderson withdrew the amendment with that caveat. The Court gave leave for the amendment to be withdrawn.

 

The Chair of Policy and Resources replied to the debate, thanking Members for their comments noting that Members would like to give the Standards Committee a clear steer on  there being a permissive approach, and the importance of clear guidance on when Members can speak and vote.

 

Mr Harrower spoke to conclude the debate noting the mood of the Court was against his proposed amendments.

 

Resolved - That this Honourable Court fully respects and supports the expectations of residents and other constituents to be represented by those whom they elected, whilst also acknowledging its statutory duty to uphold the highest standards in public life and the need for Members to disclose and act to minimise any potential conflicts of interest, particularly those defined in The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012.

 

The Court recognises the difficult balancing act that the Standards Committee has had in upholding the law and allowing Members to carry out their legitimate duties representing their Wards. With regret the Court feels that the Committee may have adopted too rigid an approach with regard to dispensations for Members representing residential areas with respect to speaking on issues affecting their constituents.

 

The Court therefore requests that the Standards Committee should, as part of the current review of its policy and guidance on dispensations, adopt a position where Members would generally be granted a dispensation to speak (but not vote) on all matters concerning their Ward where they have an engaged disclosable pecuniary interest other than when that disclosable pecuniary interest would be directly and materially impacted by a matter to be determined at a meeting of the Court or one of its committees or sub-committees.

 

(B)      The Town Clerk advised the Court that an amended Motion was before Members.

Mr Harrower proposed that the Motion be adjourned to the next meeting, Mr Dunphy proposed that the Court move straight to a vote, this was seconded by Mr Hayward. Mr Harrower responded that a debate had not taken place, the Town Clerk noted that in accordance with Standing Orders, the Court could move straight to a vote.

 

Members voted to determine whether the Motion could be put, that was carried and agreed. Therefore, the Motion as set out in the Court Summons, was put, and the Motion, following a show of hands was lost.

 

The Court was reminded of the time limits in respect of Motions, and the potential to suspend Standing Orders.

 

(C)      Resolved unanimously – “That the Resolution of Thanks to Timothy Russell Hailes, Alderman and Pewterer and Neil Graham Morgan Redcliffe, Citizen and Basketmaker, the late Sheriffs of the City, passed by Common Hall on 1 October last, be presented in a form agreeable to them?”

Supporting documents:

 


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