Venue: Council Chamber, Wallfields, Hertford. View directions
Appointment of Chairman
To appoint a Chairman for this meeting.
It was proposed by Councillor P Boylan and seconded by Councillor T Stowe that Councillor B Deering be appointed Chairman of the Standards Sub-Committee for the meeting.
RESOLVED – that Councillor B Deering be appointed Chairman of the Standards Sub-Committee for the meeting.
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 June 2018.
Councillor P Boylan proposed and Councillor T Stowe seconded, a motion that the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 June 2018 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 June 2018, be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To move that under Section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting during the discussion of item 7 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the said Act:
It is for the Sub-Committee to determine whether or not this item should be considered in public and the report made available for public information. Until a decision is taken, please regard the report as confidential.
Mr Mick Standley, representing former Ware Town Councillor J Taylor, made a formal application for this Standards Sub-Committee meeting to be adjourned. He summarised the reasons for requesting an adjournment and made an allegation of bullying against the Monitoring Officer. He commented on the differences between the versions of the investigator’s report and the difficulties in cross referencing.
The Monitoring Officer refuted absolutely the suggestion of bullying and emphasised that this went against her personal and professional standards. She referred in detail to her email correspondence with Mr Standley.
The Sub-Committee Members left the room with the Monitoring Officer, the Democratic Services Officer and the Independent Person to consider the request for an adjournment. Following this, they returned and the Chairman announced that the Sub-Committee meeting would continue on the basis that all parties were present and had the relevant documents including the investigator’s report. The Chairman stated that all parties had had ample time to prepare a response.
The Chairman further stated that he was not aware of any material differences between the versions of the reports that had been made available prior to this Sub-Committee hearing. He also emphasised that he was not aware of any inappropriate behaviour of bullying on the part of the Monitoring Officer. He believed that the conduct of the Monitoring Officer had been entirely appropriate and the matter had been dealt with by her in an exemplary fashion.
Mr Standley raised a point of order in that he believed that former Ware Town Councillor Taylor’s daughter should be allowed to stay in the meeting should the press and public be excluded. Councillor D Andrews raised a point of order on the basis that as a Member of East Herts Council he could attend any meeting of the Authority conducting any business. The Monitoring Officer stated that it was not cited in the Constitution that any Member could attend any meeting.
The Chairman advised that, if the press and public were excluded, then witnesses would have to leave after addressing the Sub-Committee. All present were reminded that this meeting was a Standards Sub-Committee, hearing tasked with investigating code of conduct matters.
Councillor P Boylan proposed and Councillor T Stowe seconded, a motion that, pursuant to Section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended, the press and public be excluded during consideration of the business referred to in Minute 9, on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1 and 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act.
The Monitoring Officer emphasised that the release of an individual’s name by Mr Standley before the exclusion of the press and public was not condoned by East Herts Council.
RESOLVED – that pursuant to Section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, the press and public be excluded during consideration of the business referred to in Minute 9, on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Complaint of failure to observe the Code of Conduct - Former Ware Town Councillor Jeanette Taylor
The Chairman outlined the procedure to be followed and everyone present was introduced. The procedure had been included in the Agenda circulated in advance of the meeting. Mr Standley read out an email from Councillor M Pope. He commented on whether the complaints against former Ware Town Councillor J Taylor by the complainant had been made in a private capacity or as the Clerk or Officer of Ware Town Council.
Former Ware Town Councillor Taylor outlined the events that had resulted in the complaint that she had failed to observe the Ware Town Council’s code of conduct. She stated that an element of the complaint was that she had acted in her capacity as a Councillor when making the arrangements for her late husband’s funeral. She refuted this and stated she did not go to meetings about the wake as a Councillor.
The Chairman reminded those present that the matter for the Sub-Committee to consider was whether there had been a breach of the Ware Town Council code of conduct. Former Ware Town Councillor Taylor questioned whether some elements of the matters detailed in the report and evidence were Standards matters that fell outside the jurisdiction of the Sub-Committee.
Former Ware Town Councillor Taylor emphasised that she had sought to book her late husband’s funeral as a member of the public. The investigator referred to the initial draft of his report in the Agenda and the final version issued by him on 23rd January 2017. He emphasised that there were 2 elements to the complaint and he stated that he had no problem referring to any of the matters detailed in both reports.
The Investigator stated that the 2 elements concerned (a) the arrangements for the funeral and wake and (b) the manner in which the dissatisfaction with elements of these events was pursued. He referred to the matter of whether former Ware Town Councillor Taylor had been acting in her official capacity or as a private individual. He referred the Sub-Committee to the findings of fact detailed in his report.
Former Ware Town Councillor Taylor referenced her service as a Councillor and stated that there was no evidence she had sought benefit for herself due to her involvement in Council business.
The Investigator referred to a number of emails included with his report. He believed that former Ware Town Councillor Taylor’s dissatisfaction with how the response to her son’s complaint was being handled had led to a conflict in terms whether she was a Town Councillor acting in the public interest or a Town Councillor seeking to gain advantage.
The Investigator stressed the importance of the onus being on Members to ensure that people were always aware of which hat they were wearing when interacting with people. He commented on the suggestion that former Ware Town Councillor Taylor had used her position to pursue the complaint and gain advantage. He also commented on the allegation she had used her position to add items onto meeting Agenda.
The Investigator ... view the full minutes text for item 9.