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STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

SUSTAINING HIGH STANDARDS OF ETHICAL GOVERNANCE IN HACKNEY

 

 

Role of the Standards Committee

 

The Localism Act 2011 requires local authorities to promote and maintain high ethical standards amongst Councillors and Co-optees.  The Council has a Standards Committee which is responsible for promoting and maintaining high ethical standards. Their responsibility includes dealing with complaints about Member conduct and granting dispensation to Members from restrictions on participation and voting at meetings, and from the requirements relating to interests set out in the Members’ Code of Conduct.

 

The Members’ Code of Conduct was adopted by the Council on 27th June 2012 and is based on the Nolan Principles.  It contains general obligations for Members and Co-optees as well as the duty to declare pecuniary and other interests.  There are sanctions for failure to comply with the Code.

 

The role and terms of reference of the Standards Committee can be found in Part 2, Article 8 and Part 3 of the Council’s Constitution.

 

Standards Committee has overall responsibility for the ethical governance agenda of the Council.  It assists Members and Co-optees to observe the Members’ Code of Conduct.  It monitors the operation of the Code and determines complaints under the Code. It also provides training on the Code.

 

Membership of Standards Committee

 

The following sit on the Standards Committee:

 

  • One Executive Councillor – Cllr. Anntoinette Bramble (Cabinet Member with responsibility for the ethical governance framework) – is Chair of the Committee;
  • Eight Non-executive Councillors – Cllr Katie Hanson, Cllr Jessica Webb (Vice-Chair), Cllr Anna Lynch, Cllr Sem Moema, Cllr Caroline Woodley, Cllr Humaira Garasia, Cllr Soraya Adejare, Cllr Carole Williams
  • Up to Six Co-opted Members (only four currently appointed) Adedoja Labinjo, Onagete Louison, Nicola Hanns and Aoife Scannell

 

Role of Co-opted Members

 

The Council has no legal obligation to appoint Co-opted Members onto the Standard Committee. However, the Council has agreed to retain members of the public on the Standards Committee as this provides independent oversight of the Council’s ethical governance framework.

 

Co-opted Members are members of the public who are non-voting members of the committee but are specifically selected for their neutrality and experience of good ethical governance.

 

Managing Complaints of breach of the Code

 

The Standards Committee is the first point of reference for any complaint about the behaviour of any Member or voting co-opted Member of the Council.

Complaints about Member conduct must be in writing with details of the alleged breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct. A complaints form and guidance notes are available for use by persons who may wish to lodge a complaint.

Decisions as to whether to investigate complaints about alleged contraventions of the Members’ Code of Conduct will be determined by a sub-committee of the Standards Committee under the Procedure for Handling Complaints against Member Conduct.

 

The Council’s Monitoring Officer will make an initial assessment of the complaint and, as far as possible, attempt to resolve the complaint informally with the complainant and the subject Member.  The Monitoring Officer will refer the matter to the Standards Committee for determination if informal resolution is either not appropriate, or is unsuccessful.

 

Independent Person

 

The law requires the appointment of an independent person to oversee the investigation of complaints.  When a complaint is received by the Council, the views of the Independent Person must be sought before the complaint is investigated.

 

The Member or Co-optee against whom a complaint is made can also consult the same Independent Person on the matter.

 

Complaints outside the Standards Committee’s remit

 

In addition to overseeing the Council’s ethical governance agenda, the Standards Committee has responsibility for monitoring the progress of:

 

·  the Council’s Members Enquiry Protocol

·  Corporate Complaints Procedure, and

·   Local Government Ombudsman cases.

 

The Committee does not however, deal with complaints about:

  • Things that are not covered by the Members’ Code of Conduct.
  • Staff conduct
  • Incidents that happened before a Member was elected to office
  • The way the Council conducts or records its meetings
  • The way the Council has or has not delivered services. This may be a matter for the Local Government Ombudsman if the authority has not dealt with the matter properly and it has not been resolved locally
  • Decisions of the Council or one of its departments. There is a Complaints Procedure relating to services.

  Granting Dispensations

 

The Standards Committee can grant dispensations to Members and Co-optees from requirements relating to participation and voting at meetings and to interests set out in the Members’ Code of Conduct.  The Member or Co-optee would need to make a written application and if granted, such dispensation could last for their full term of office.

 

Contacting Standards Committee

 

If you would like further information please contact Clifford Hart on telephone 020 8356 3597 or by e-mail to clifford.hart@hackney.gov.uk.