Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting via Zoom

Contact: Neil Terry
Democratic Services Lead  01903 221073

No. Item


Election of a Chairman

To elect a Chairman for the duration of the meeting.


Councillor Roy Barraclough proposed that Councillor Kevin Boram chair the meeting. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Andy McGregor.




That the Joint Governance Sub-Committee appointed Councillor Kevin Boram to be Chairman for the meeting.


Substitute Members


The following substitutions were noted:


1.     Councillor Andy McGregor substituted for Councillor Ann Bridges.

2.     Councillor Mike Barrett substituted for Councillor Rebecca Cooper.



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.



Exclusion of Press and Public

In the opinion of the Proper Officer the press and public should be excluded from the meeting for consideration of item 5. Therefore the meeting is asked to consider passing the following resolution:


'that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting from the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraph of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act indicated against the item'



Councillor McGregor sought advice about whether he could propose a motion at his stage of the meeting.


The Legal Advisor (LA) informed the Sub-Committee that a decision was required beforehand in relation to whether the hearing would be held in Part A (open to the press and public) or Part B (closed to the press and public)


The Subject Member’s Representative (SMR) advised the Committee that Councillor Crouch (SM) supported the meeting being held in open session.




That the Joint Governance Sub-Committee unanimously agreed to hold the meeting in Part A, open to the Press and Public. 


Procedure for the Meeting pdf icon PDF 131 KB

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


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.


Councillor Andy McGregor proposed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the basis that the Code had not been engaged as Councillor Crouch had not been acting in his capacity as a Councillor but as a Media Officer for the Local Conservative Association. Therefore the matter was political and not a Council matter. In addition, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provided that anyone has a right to freedom of expression and the comments were in the bounds of acceptable debate and made reference to the Investigator’s report..


Members raised a number of points seeking clarity about when a Councillor was acting in their capacity, referring to the Independent Investigator’s Report, which recommended that the Code of Conduct was engaged and there was a breach of the Code.


The LA advised that there was no definition of ‘capacity’ within the legislation however, there were a number of test cases of relevance:-


1.    The Case of Laverick looked at capacity in relation to a Councillor writing a blog. In that case it was said that it was perfectly reasonable to write in a private capacity even if they described themselves as Councillors. Was the Councillor writing in their official capacity as a Councillor or were the contents of the blog sufficiently connected to Council business for the Code of Conduct to be engaged. That was the test to be applied.


2.    The Case of Milton Keynes which said the councillor should be engaged in the business directly related to the Council or the constituents and there had to be a link between the Councillors Office and the conduct.


The LA advised that the case was about whether the post related to Council business and was the Councillor acting in his capacity as a Councillor.


A Member questioned how it could be argued that it was anything but Council business, as the comment related directly to a video clip from a Council meeting.


Another Member highlighted that the Independent Investigator (II) and the MO had been satisfied that the SM was acting in his capacity as a Councillor.


The LA proposed that the Sub-Committee follow the Procedure for the Meeting, as set out as Agenda Item 3, rather than delve into the case in response to the proposed motion. It was important that Members considered all of the information before them prior to reaching a decision.


Councillor Steve Wills seconded the motion proposed by Councillor Andy McGregor. The motion was then to be debated.


The LA advised the Sub-Committee that the MO had the power to amend the order of the procedure put forward for the meeting and that Members needed to consider the capacity issue first. The Sub-Committee was advised by the LA  to hear from the II (the Independent Investigator) and that it could also refer to the Independent Person  ...  view the full minutes text for item JGCSC/15/20-21