Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Worthing

Contact: Neil terry
Senior Democratic Services Offcier  01903 221364
neil.terry@worthing.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

JGCSC/1019-20

Election of a Chairman

To elect a Chairman for the duration of the meeting.

Minutes:

Resolved,

 

That the Joint Governance Sub-Committee appointed Councillor Bob Smytherman to be Chairman for the meeting.

JGCSC/1119-20

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.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.  

 

JGCSC/1219-20

Procedure for the meeting pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To agree the procedure for the meeting, a copy of the proposed procedure is attached as item 3.

Minutes:

The Sub-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. 

 

Members debated a proposed amendment for an additional stage to be added to the procedure enabling the sub-committee to consider the definition of a word included in Cllr Evans (Subject Member) facebook post. 

 

The Monitoring Officer (MO) advised Members that their role was not to determine the meaning of a specific word included in Cllr Evans’ Facebook post, but to determine whether Cllr Evans had breached the Code of Conduct. 

 

The Legal Advisor (LA) advised that the Sub-Committee’s role was to determine whether the entire post was disrespectful, not just specific words within the post. Ascertaining the definitions of words included in the post was not relevant. 

 

Resolved, 

 

The Sub-Committee agreed to an amendment to the procedure for the meeting, inserting an additional item, after item 16. The evidence had not provided a definition of the word ‘tosser’. A number of meanings for the word were included in the dictionary and Members felt it was important that the Sub-Committee determined which definition was appropriate, in order to ascertain whether the code had been breached. 

 

JGCSC/1319-20

Allegation of a Breach of the Code of Conduct by Councillor Emma Evans pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider a report by the Monitoring Officer, copy attached as item 4.

Minutes:

Prior to outlining the complaint, the MO reminded Members of their obligations, the remit of the Sub-Committee and its role.

 

The Sub-Committee had been convened to determine an allegation, from a member of the public, that Cllr Evans had breached Adur District Council’s Code of Conduct for elected members.  

 

The role and obligations of the Sub-Committee were:-

 

  • Section 27 of the Localism Act 2011, imposed a statutory duty on all Members, to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by Members of the authority;

 

  • Article 12 - Decision Making, part of both Councils Constitutions, imposed the following duties on all Members when sitting on a committee to make decisions:
    • Members should pay proper regard to professional advice from the Councils Officers;
    • Members should pay proper regard to any consultation, views of the Independent Person in this case,    
    • Members need to provide reasons for the decisions they make;
    • Members must take into account all relevant matters and not take into account any irrelevant considerations when making a decision;
    • Members must not contravene Wednesbury Reasonableness;

      

It was noted that if any of the above principles were not complied with, it could leave the Sub-Committee’s decision open to challenge.

 

Members were also reminded of the Joint Governance Committee’s Terms of Reference:-

  • to promote a culture of openness, ready accountability and probity in order to ensure the highest standards of conduct of Councillors and Co-opted Members;
  • to lead on all aspects of corporate governance, by creating a norm of the highest standards of personal conduct.     

 

The MO advised the Sub-Committee that it’s decision should be based upon the evidence presented at the meeting from both parties. Members of the sub-committee should not present their own evidence and it was essential that Members came to a decision with an open mind. It was not the role of the sub-committee to consider the conduct of Mr Patmore. Mr Patmore was a Parish Councillor but was acting as a member of the public when he posted on Facebook. He made no reference to being a Councillor in his exchange with Cllr Evans and the MO was satisfied that he was acting in his capacity as a member of the public. 

 

The MO outlined the alleged breach in accordance with stage 5 of the procedure for the hearing advising that the Sub-Committee had been convened to determine the allegation that Cllr Evans had breached the Code of Conduct. 

 

It was noted that the code applied to all Members when they were acting in their capacity, or holding themselves out to be, or, giving the impression that they were acting in their capacity as a councillor. 

 

The breaches, as alleged, were in relation to paragraphs 4.2.1(a) - to treat others with respect, and 4.2.1(b) - to not conduct themselves in a manner which is contrary to the Council’ duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct of Members. 

 

Prior to the MO providing a summary of the complaint, the subject Member was asked whether she wished to acknowledge  ...  view the full minutes text for item JGCSC/1319-20