Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, - Swale House. View directions
Election of Chairman
To elect a Chairman for this meeting.
Resolved: That Councillor Alan Horton be elected as Chairman for this meeting.
Fire 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 drew attention to the evacuation procedure. He advised that at 11am the Council would be observing a minute silence, in remembrance of those who lost their lives and all those affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower, London.
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. Members were advised that although they all attended the Scrutiny Committee meeting on 29 November 2016, and were acquainted with the Subject Member, due to their role as Councillors of the same authority, this was not a pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest and did not preclude them from considering the complaint. The Chairman outlined to the meeting that the panel were aware of their responsibilities and would consider the matter in a fair and impartial manner and come to a decision based upon the merits of the case.
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked all those in attendance to confirm their name and role. Mr Greenhill explained that he was there to assist the Subject Member, not as an advocate.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To decide whether to pass the resolution set out below in respect of the following item: -
That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
1. Information relating to any individual.
The report had been published as an open report, with the appendices as exempt.
Resolved: To not pass the resolution to exclude the Press and Public and to hold the meeting in public session.
This report is now an ‘open’ report. Please see the minutes for further information.
The Monitoring Officer introduced the report which set out the complaint of Member Misconduct: SBC 1.17. The Investigating Officer’s report had found that there had been a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct. The Sub-Committee was asked to determine whether there had been any breach, or breaches, of the Code of Conduct, and if there had, to determine what sanction, if any, should be recommended to the Council.
The Chairman asked the Subject Member whether he agreed with the information in the Pre-Hearing Summary report and in particular whether there was any further information the Subject Member wished to have considered, and if there was, to outline why it had not been raised in the pre-hearing phase. The Subject Member Representative questioned whether the Investigating Officer was truly independent, as he had previously been employed by Swale Borough Council. He also considered that the Subject Member should have been provided with all the information prior to the Hearing. The Subject Member Representative stated that the report was flawed as it referred to, but did not include, the interview with the Complainant, and as such it was not possible to see all the evidence from which the Investigating Officer had reached his conclusion, and he questioned how a decision could be made on this basis.
The Investigating Officer provided a background on how Investigating Officers’ reports were written, and he gave assurance that on balance, nothing in the Complainant’s interview affected his conclusion.
The Independent Person stated that the Investigating Officer’s report should stand as it was.
The Sub-Committee, Senior Lawyer (Contentious), Legal Assistant and Democratic Services Officer left the meeting at 10.31am, and returned at 10.45am to respond.
The Chairman advised that the Sub-Committee considered that the Subject Member had had the opportunity to raise these issues within the timeframe of the normal process prior to this Hearing, but had not heard the reasons why the Subject Member was asking to present the information now at the hearing for the first time. The Subject Member Representative advised that he had not had the opportunity to see the draft papers so was unaware of the fact that the Investigating Officer was a past employee of Swale Borough Council. The Investigating Officer further advised that the normal procedure had been followed, and that all the facts needed to reach a decision, were in his report.
The Sub-Committee, Senior Lawyer (Contentious), Legal Assistant and Democratic Services Officer left the meeting at 10.53am, and returned at 11.12am to respond.
The Chairman advised that the Subject Member himself had had the opportunity to raise any issues during the Pre-Hearing stage. In response, the Subject Member explained that rather than have an email exchange prior to the Hearing, he preferred that any outstanding issues be discussed at the meeting itself. The Chairman drew attention to the background information in the report which explained that the Investigating Officer had previously been the Head of Legal at Swale Borough Council. The Chairman advised that the Sub Committee ... view the full minutes text for item 38.