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To note any changes to the membership.
1.1 It was noted that Councillors Rachael Robathan and Melvyn Caplan were substituting for Councillors Tim Mitchell and Louise Hyams.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations by Members and Officers of the existence and nature of any pecuniary interests or any other significant interest in matters on this agenda.
2.1 There were no declarations of interest.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15 September 2022 as a correct record of proceedings.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 September 2022 be signed by the Chair as a correct record of the proceedings.
Annual Q&A with the Leader of the Council on Ethical Standards
4.1 As part of its efforts to raise the profile of standards the Committee had agreed to invite the Leader of the Council to attend one of its meetings each year to answer questions on ethical standards.
4.2 The Chair welcomed Councillor Adam Hug, Leader of the Council, to the meeting. Committee members were invited to submit questions to Councillor Hug on a range of ethical standards matters and the following areas were covered:
· Conflict Resolution – With regards to conflict resolution between Councillors it was explained that there was no explicit reference to it in the member complaints procedure. However, the Monitoring Officer, or other officer, did have discretion to suggest mediation or recommend another informal type of resolution as long as all parties consented. The Committee noted it would often depend on the type of complaint, some of which may be considered Group matters and be dealt with by the Whips accordingly. The Council was always open to new ideas though and going forward best practice elsewhere could be considered.
· Social Media - An online refresher session was held in June 2021 on the Members Code of Conduct with a focus on social media. In addition, in May 2022 reference was made to standards and social media in the post-election code of conduct sessions held for all Members. These sessions were well received, and it was suggested these be rerun, especially that there was now a significant number of new Councillors. The sessions focused on how Councillors could use social media to communicate to their residents, how to engage in healthy debate and what to consider when publishing or sharing online.
· Councillor Training - All Members attended the member code of conduct training in May 2022, held in various formats including in-person groups, smaller hybrid group sessions and on a 1:1 basis (hybrid and in person). For regulatory committees such as Planning and Licensing, training was mandatory in order to sit on these committees, and this had been completed by all those Councillors as necessary. In order to encourage attendance training was, where possible, held in a hybrid fashion where Members could attend in person or remotely. Training was also held on an evening in order to capture those Members who worked. Members were encouraged to forward on any ideas for future training sessions, especially on topics they think Councillors would be interested in.
· Personal Safety Training - The Committee was particularly interested in personal safety training which although it was noted it couldn’t be made mandatory and didn’t form part of the code of conduct, it was felt this should be offered on an ongoing basis in different formats and be as broad and accessible as possible. The Committee was pleased to note that two personal safety sessions had already been held this year and would continue to be offered on an ongoing basis as it was an area that was very important. As part of the personal safety of Councillors the Committee discussed having a structured ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Report of the Director of Law
5.1 The Monitoring Officer introduced the annual report which provided details of complaints against members of the Council between November 2021 to October 2022. It was confirmed that during this period three complaints had been received. The Committee was provided with an overview of the nature of the complaints and it was confirmed that none of these had been referred to the Standards Committee for a hearing.
That the outcomes of the Members complaints referred to in the report be noted.
6.1 The Committee noted the 2022-23 Work Programme.