Hounslow Council


Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Thomas Ribbits, Head of Democratic Services, on 020 8583 2251 or email  thomas.ribbits@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

The following apologies were noted:

  • An apology for absence was received for Councillor Elizabeth Hughes.
  • An apology for late arrival was received from Ms Rakhee Gorolay
  • An apology for leaving the meeting early was received from Councillor Samia Chaudhary

 

There were no declarations of interest.

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 198 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 18th July 2015

Minutes:

It was noted that only two members of the committee who had been in attendance at the last meeting were currently present.  However, as both confirmed that the minutes were accurate it was

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 18th July 2015 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

TO NOTE: All

 

3.

Whistleblowing Policy pdf icon PDF 500 KB

Report of Councillor Richard Foote, Cabinet Member for Communities

Minutes:

Members considered a report by Councillor Richard Foote, Cabinet Member for Communities, which was introduced by Mr John Walsh, Director of Transformation

 

Members and the two independent advisers to the Committee discussed the report and asked question of Mr Walsh.  Members noted that new policy not only complied with the national code of conduct on whistleblowing but exceeded it, but they requested that some comparison between the Council’s whistleblowing policy and that of other comparative council’s be compared to ensure that it was in line with current good practice.  Mr Walsh undertook to investigate this and to write back to members with his findings.

 

ACTION BY: Director of Transformation

 

Following suggestions, Mr Walsh also undertook to consider the following:

  • Whether the text in paragraph 2.33 on page 15 of the report discouraging the raising of concerns externally should be reworded to stop people being put off from raising concerns.
  • That the policy should state overtly that all complaints needed to be recorded in writing and could not be acted upon purely based on oral statements.
  • How to ensure that if one of the five senior officers entitled under the policy to have access to the database of whistleblowing complaints was themselves implicated in such a complaint they would not be able to see details of the complainant and so ensure the anonymity required for a successful whistleblowing policy.

 

ACTION BY: Director of Transformation

 

It was then

 

RESOLVED –

 

  • That the changes to the Whistleblowing Policy be noted, following recommendations contained in the Internal Audit Report April 2015 and also the Department for Business Innovation & Skills Guidance for Employers and Code of Practice on Whistleblowing, March 2015; and
  • It be noted that this report and all future related reports will be presented to the Standards Committee whose terms of reference specifically include oversight of whistleblowing matters.

 

ACTION BY: Director of Transformation

 

4.

The Members' Code of Conduct and the Council's Ethical Framework pdf icon PDF 347 KB

Report by Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of the Council

Minutes:

Members considered a report by Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of the Council, which was introduced by Mr Peter Large, Head of Governance and Monitoring Officer

 

In accordance with the first recommendation in the report, Mr Large spent some time presenting members of the Committee with a short training exercise, explaining the nature of his role as Monitoring Officer and the operation of the standards regime in Hounslow within the context of the legal requirements set out in the Localism Act 2011.

 

Members then discussed the report and supported the proposals for improvements and amendments to the code of conduct for members detailed in the report. It also agreed that all members should be provided with training on the code of conduct and the Council’s ethical framework but this should take place after the code had been revised.

 

Councillor Mel Collins asked that any future training on the standards regime for members include information on how to deal with members of the public whose persistent and frequent approaches verged on vexatious.

 

It was then

 

RESOLVED –

 

  • That the report be considered and noted;
  • That the Council’s ethical framework and Standards arrangements be noted;
  • A short training session, as set out in paragraph 3.18 of the report, be received and noted;
  • That the proposed changes to the Code of Conduct set out in the report be agreed;
  • That the proposed changes to the Council’s arrangements for dealing with complaints be agreed;
  • That the Code be amended in order to clarify Member’s responsibilities with respect to the declaration of the receipt of gifts and hospitality; and 
  • That the Monitoring Officer be requested to amend the Code and the Council’s arrangements in accordance with the Committee’s decisions and to prepare a revised Code for the Committee’s approval at its next meeting
  • That training on the Code of Conduct should be offered to Members generally as part of the Council’s ongoing Member Development programme once the revised code of conduct had been agreed.

 

ACTION BY: Head of Governance

 

5.

Any Other Matters Considered Urgent By the Chair

Minutes:

The Chair advised that he was keen to ensure that the website was updated to ensure that information on the Standards Committee and the Council’s ethical framework was easy to find and understand and he asked officers to look into this. He clarified that he wished to see information to help members of the public know how to complain about an elected councillor.

 

ACTION: Head of Governance and Head of Democratic Services

 

The Chair requested that meetings of the Standards Committee be made quarterly.

 

ACTION: Head of Governance and Head of Democratic Services

 

There was no other business.