The Committee received a verbal update on Standards matters from the Monitoring Officer, Mr Michael Graham.
The Committee noted that arrangements were in place to receive and investigate any complaints relating to Councillors and the Code of Conduct.
As previously approved by the Standards Committee, an informal process was in place to enable complaints to be reviewed and managed with the support of the relevant political group leader and the Chairman of the Standards Committee.
Should a complaint require a formal investigation by the Monitoring Officer, the Independent Person would be consulted.
Members noted that there were five complaints received during the 2015/16 year, all of which had been investigated in accordance with the approved complaints process. Four of these were referred to the informal group procedures and one was subject to a formal complaint dealt with by the Monitoring Officer.
Members of the Committee were keen to ensure that any complaints against councillors were handled in a transparent manner so as to promote public confidence. Members expressed a view that the informal procedure would not be appropriate for (i) repeated instances of poor behaviour (ii) any behaviour which involved abuse towards officers or (iii) something which was in the public domain.
It was also discussed that in terms of future handling, the Monitoring Officer will continue to inform the Chairman of emerging issues so that she had an oversight of matters generally. The Monitoring Officer would include the Vice Chairman on these communications. The Chairman would invite the Vice Chairman to substitute for her at Group Leaders’ Meetings where she is unable to attend. These measures are intended to improve the flow of information amongst relevant parties.
It was also noted that Code of Conduct training had been arranged for all Councillors, following the local elections on 5 May 2016. Attendance would be mandatory for newly elected Councillors, but all Councillors would be encouraged to attend the session.
RESOLVED that the update be noted.