Agenda and minutes
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Items No. Item
Apologies for Absence
Declarations of Interest
The following councillors declared an interest in the minutes as follows:
5 – Complaint Reference SC.06/01/2016
Personal – Has communicated via email with members of SEG
Minutes of the Assessment Committee meeting held on 09 November 2016
RESOLVED – that the minutes of the Assessment Sub-Committee meeting held on 9 November 2016 are to follow.
- Enc. 1 for Standards Complaint , item 9. PDF 60 KB
- Restricted enclosure 5 View the reasons why document 9./3 is restricted
The Monitoring Officer submitted a report to decide what action to take in respect of a complaint alleging several breaches of the Code of Conduct by Councillor Liam Atkins.
On the 6th January 2016 the Monitoring Officer received a complaint from Councillor Kim Forward concerning Councillor Atkins speech at the Save Ecclesbourne Glen (SEG) Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Councillor Forward’s complaint stated that Councillor Atkins “spoke about Hastings Borough Council’s Planning Department and its officers in negative and derogatory terms and where he appeared to divulge details of a confidential briefing he had received from officers”.
Councillor Atkins was invited to the Save Ecclesbourne Glen’s (SEG’s) public meeting and Annual General Meeting (AGM). Councillor Atkins had emailed the Director of
Operations on 30th October 2015 stating that “I’d rather not do this, but could I arrange a briefing on these issues nonetheless”. Councillor Atkins met with three council officers, namely the Assistant Director of Environment and Place, Assistant Director of Housing and Built Environment and the Chief Legal Officer on 11th November 2015.
Councillor Atkins attended SEG’s AGM which was held at the White Rock Hotel on Sunday 15th November 2015 with Councillor Cooke. He addressed the meeting which was recorded in its entirety by SEG. On 17th November a copy of the recording was posted on SEG’s Facebook page. The recording was also posted on YouTube on 19th November 2015.
At the initial assessment meeting held on 22nd February 2016, the committee agreed that the complaint met the initial tests set out in the Monitoring Officer’s report. The committee felt the evidence was sufficient to warrant an investigation and resolved that the Monitoring Officer appoint an external investigator.
Alex Oram of Ch&I Associates was appointed to conduct the investigation. The decision was taken to conduct the investigation after the local election on 5th May 2016 due to the nature of the complaint, so as not to take place during Purdah. The report of the external investigator confirmed that a breach of the Code had taken place and for the Monitoring officer to arrange a hearing to allow the Assessment Sub-Committee to decide what action to take and to allow both the complainant, Councillor Forward, and the defendant, Councillor Atkins, to make their own submissions.
The Assessment Sub-Committee met on 9th November 2016. Councillor Atkins addressed the Committee and made his submission. The Committee indicated that they felt there was a breach of the Code of Conduct and decided to refer the matter to the Standards Committee for a public hearing to decide what action to take and to consider appropriate sanctions suggested by Alex Oram.
Alex Oram‘s report dated 1st September 2016 was appended to the Standards Committee agenda at Appendix B. The report was restricted as it contained exempt information by virtue of Paragraph 1.2 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 because the interviews with Council Officers were undertaken on a confidential ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Additional Urgent Items (if any)