Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room - Swale House. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330
Emergency Evacuation Procedure
The Chairman will advise the meeting of the evacuation procedures to follow in the event of an emergency. This is particularly important for visitors and members of the public who will be unfamiliar with the building and procedures.
The Chairman will inform the meeting whether there is a planned evacuation drill due to take place, what the alarm sounds like (i.e. ringing bells), where the closest emergency exit route is, and where the second closest emergency exit route is, in the event that the closest exit or route is blocked.
The Chairman will inform the meeting that:
(a) in the event of the alarm sounding, everybody must leave the building via the nearest safe available exit and gather at the Assembly points at the far side of the Car Park. Nobody must leave the assembly point until everybody can be accounted for and nobody must return to the building until the Chairman has informed them that it is safe to do so; and
(b) the lifts must not be used in the event of an evacuation.
Any officers present at the meeting will aid with the evacuation.
It is important that the Chairman is informed of any person attending who is disabled or unable to use the stairs, so that suitable arrangements may be made in the event of an emergency.
The Chairman outlined the emergency evacuation procedure.
To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 12 June 2019 (Minute Nos. 41 - 44) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 12 June 2019 (Minute Nos. 41 – 44) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves or their spouse, civil partner or person with whom they are living with as a spouse or civil partner. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
The Chairman will ask Members if they have any interests to declare in respect of items on this agenda, under the following headings:
(a) Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI) under the Localism Act 2011. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DPI, the Member must leave the meeting and not take part in the discussion or vote. This applies even if there is provision for public speaking.
(b) Disclosable Non Pecuniary (DNPI) under the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council in May 2012. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DNPI interest, the Member may stay, speak and vote on the matter.
(c) Where it is possible that a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts would conclude that there was a real possibility that the Member might be predetermined or biased the Member should declare their predetermination or bias and then leave the room while that item is considered.
Advice to Members: If any Councillor has any doubt about the existence or nature of any DPI or DNPI which he/she may have in any item on this agenda, he/she should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Head of Legal or from other Solicitors in Legal Services as early as possible, and in advance of the Meeting.
No interests were declared.
The Monitoring Officer advised that the proposed guidance had been included in the induction pack for Members, and that it differed from the existing constitutional guidance primarily in that it included an important section on social media. He advised that the paragraph in bold at the top of page 12 should be removed.
A discussion ensued which centred on the following themes:
· The guidance was useful but questioned whether it should be included in the constitution;
· the distinction between acting in a personal capacity and acting as a member;
· the lack of sanctions available to the Council’s Standards Committee to take action for inappropriate comments on social media;
· that there were already standards in place in terms of the Code of Conduct (Nolan Principles) which all Members signed up to; and
· there was also other guidance available on this topic from the Local Government Association and in local political party rules, and reference was also made to legislation such as libel laws.
The Monitoring Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer drew attention to the recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life which recommended legislative action to create a presumption that a councillor was always acting in that capacity, but this was not within current legislation.
A suggestion was made that the content could be considered further by the Member Development Working Group for inclusion in the training package.
(1) That updated guidance be issued to Members but not included in the constitution.
The Monitoring Officer introduced the report which suggested improvements to the wording of Council Procedure Rule 15 on motions. The Monitoring Officer outlined the intention of the proposed changes which was to ensure that decisions and policy were not made without proper consideration and were evidence based, and so to make it clear that a motion could signal a policy intention which would require further consideration by the Cabinet or a committee.
Members considered the revised wording and whilst they agreed with the principle and intention, they asked for the wording to be updated to make it more simple. It was suggested that the Mayor could announce at the end of a positive vote on a motion that it would be referred to ‘X’ for further consideration.
During the debate it was suggested that there should be specific rules on motions for the Planning Committee, and it was noted that a correction was needed to reflect he/she. Another member suggested that once a motion was moved it belonged to the council, and also questioned what would happen if the Mayor and Monitoring Officer did not agree on the Monitoring Officer’s intention to reject a motion.
(1) That the Monitoring Officer reviews the wording to take account of the feedback from the Committee.
The Committee considered the report to create an additional polling district to make voting arrangements more convenient for voters living in the Great Easthall estate who were within the boundary of the Teynham and Lynsted borough ward and Tonge Parish Council.
In response to a question about timing, the Democratic and Electoral Services Manager advised that it was unlikely that the proposed change could be implemented in time for the General Election on 12 December 2019.
(1) That the addition of a polling district and place in Teynham and Lynsted ward, for the voters who live in the Great Easthall estate, be agreed.
The Committee considered the report regarding the proposal to introduce a requirement for members to register gifts and hospitality, which would be considered further by the Standards Committee prior to a decision being made by full Council.
(1) That the Committee supports the proposals set out in the report which will be considered further by the Standards Committee.
The Committee discussed the paper on options available to members to implement compulsory training for all members on equality and diversity, including unconscious bias.
The following sets out the key points from the discussion:
· That the training should be delivered as part of training on the Code of Conduct (Nolan Principles);
· there should be no connection between equality and diversity training and committee places;
· it was suggested that there should be a caveat that a member does not have to attend if they can evidence that they have completed the training elsewhere;
· it was suggested that consideration should be given as to whether councillors should have mandatory DBS checks;
· officers were asked whether any research had been undertaken as to what other authorities did or if the Local Government Association had any guidance on this subject;
· members should be ‘strongly recommended’ to keep up-to-date with this training and this could be enforced through group leaders;
· options for on-line training (ELMS) were available and this should be offered to members, which would make training more accessible;
· examples were given by members in their professions of requirements to undertake regular training; and
· it was suggested that the annual governance report to the Standards Committee should set out attendance statistics for training for each individual member training.