Venue: Gordon Room, Town Hall, Worthing
Contact: Heather Kingston
Democratic Services Officer 01903 221006
Election of a Chairman
To elect a Chairman for the duration of the meeting.
That the Joint Governance Sub-Committee appointed Councillor Bob Smytherman to be Chairman for the meeting.
Before proceeding with the meeting, the Chairman advised that Councillor Debs Stainforth had been delayed and suggested to the Committee Members that the meeting be adjourned to allow the Councillor to fully participate or proceed in her absence. The Committee agreed to adjourn the meeting.
Declarations of Interest
Members and officers must declare any disclosable pecuniary interests in relation to any business on the agenda. Declarations should also be made at any stage such an interest becomes apparent during the meeting.
If in doubt contact the Legal or Democratic Services representative for this meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
To agree the procedure for the meeting, a copy of the proposed procedure is attached as item 3.
The Committee were asked to approve the procedure for the meeting, a copy of which is attached to the signed copy of the minutes as item 3.
The Committee agreed the procedure for the meeting and confirmed that the hearing would be held in public.
To consider a report by the Monitoring Officer, copy attached as item 4.
The Monitoring Officer (MO) introduced attendees to one another and outlined the Council’s case for Members’ consideration. The MO advised there was little to add to the report, which she believed had been clear and thorough.
A formal complaint had been received by the Council’s MO on 3 April 2019 from Councillor Stephen Chipp, the Complainant. The complaint had been that Councillor Catherine Arnold, the Subject Member, had breached the Adur District Council Code of Conduct for Members in respect of paragraph 4.2.1 (d) which dealt with disclosure of confidential information.
The MO advised the background to the complaint related to the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Working Group (JOSWG) that had been established to consider some work on traveller encampments. The JOSWG had met on the 27 February 2019 to question a number of senior Officers within the Councils and gain evidence from third parties. Some of the information provided to the JOSWG had been confidential in its nature. There had been reference made on the evening to those present that the information was strictly confidential and subject to legal professional privilege.
Following the JOSWG meeting in February, an email had been sent by Mark Lowe, the Council’s Scrutiny and Risk Officer, to members of the JOSWG on 21 March 2019. The email had two attachments, and the Officer had stipulated within the email that the attachments contained confidential information and should not be shared. Despite this, the MO advised it had come to light that Councillor Arnold had shared the email and both attachments with a person who was not a Councillor or Officer of either the Adur or Worthing authorities, and therefore deemed to be a member of the public.
The Council’s Scrutiny and Risk Officer (SRO), Mark Lowe, noticed that Councillor Arnold had shared the attachments that were Google documents, with a person with an external email address, despite advice not to do so. The MO advised that anyone attempting to forward the attachments to an email address that did not have permission to access the documents would have received pop up prompts. Therefore, it would have been clear to Councillor Arnold that she was sharing both the email and attachments contrary to Officer advice.
The Council’s SRO had emailed Councillor Arnold about the issue on 26 March 2019 and Councillor Arnold’s initial response had been “.... I was trying to share the content of the email, and not the file itself, sorry”. The MO referred Members to the subsequent email from the Chief Executive to Councillor Arnold and her response which confirmed that she had only intended to share the email.
However the MO referred Members to the Investigator’s report and confirmed that at interview Cllr Arnold had admitted that she had actually wanted to share one of the attachments but inadvertently shared both attachments, contrary to Officer advice.
Councillor Arnold had accepted she had shared confidential information, which the MO stated was a breach of the Council’s Code of Conduct and ... view the full minutes text for item JGSC/9/19-20