Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 3HT. View directions
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 Senior Democratic Services Officer drew attention to the Emergency Evacuation Procedure.
Election of Chairman
To elect a Chairman for this meeting.
(1) That Councillor Hannah Perkin be confirmed as Chairman for this meeting.
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 Interests (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.
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.
(1) That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, 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 Paragraphs 5 and 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act:
1. Information relating to any individual.
The Chairman used her discretion to allow visiting Members to remain in the Council Chamber for the duration of the hearing.
Consideration of Complaint No.26/21
The Monitoring Officer presented the pre-hearing summary report which considered whether the subject Member had breached the Members’ Code of Conduct by making an unsubstantiated allegation against two Members at a meeting of the Local Plan Panel on 7 October 2021. He said that all the facts were set out in the transcript on pages 12 to 16 of the report and he referred to paragraph 3.2 which explained why he considered the subject Member’s use of the word ‘their’ was directed at the two Members of the opposition.
The Monitoring Officer acknowledged that complaints from Members against other Members about comments made during meetings were not uncommon since Members were often passionate and held strong views, but he added that these incidents were usually resolved informally by way of an apology, but since no apology was forthcoming, the matter of whether the Members’ Code of Conduct had been breached had to be considered further. The Monitoring Officer explained that the Swale Borough Council (SBC) Members’ Code of Conduct contained 11 paragraphs delineating the behaviour which all Councillors were expected to model and he drew attention to paragraphs 9 and 10 of the code, which he considered were breached by the subject member. He said there had been no alternative but to hold a Standards Hearing Sub-Committee.
In response, the subject Member said the precise details of the complaint should have been relayed, and included in the report, rather than a summary. The subject Member said they had not referred to individuals, but to the political group nationally and their words had been misinterpreted.
The subject Member’s witness, who had chaired the meeting where the incident took placet, said they had taken the reference to ‘their’ to be directed to the national political group and not any individuals at the meeting. The witness said they would have sought clarity at the meeting and an apology on the night otherwise, and they considered the alleged breach was a poor reflection on their chairing skills. The witness questioned whether the complaint was only brought as far as a hearing by the Monitoring Officer as the subject Member was one of only two female Cabinet Members. The Monitoring Officer objected to the allegation.
In summing up, the Monitoring Officer said that the whole complaint centred on whether ‘their’ referred to the individual opposition Members or otherwise and since the comment was made immediately after opposition Members had spoken, he considered it did. The Monitoring Officer also clarified that the complainant had listened to the recording before submitting their complaint. He also said that the complaint did not reflect on the chairing skills of the Chairman of the Local Plan Panel and the complaint was not about the Chairman.
The subject Member summed up by saying it was not usual to give an explanation until all the facts had been received and these were received much later in the process. The subject Member said they stood by what they said.
The Independent Person, ... view the full minutes text for item 765.