A report of the Director of Legal and Democratic Services was presented to request Members to agree the appointment of three Standards Independent Persons for a period of up to two years.
The previous Standards regime was abolished by the Localism Act 2012 and new requirements came into effect on 1 July 2012. Under previous legislation the Council was required to appoint Independent Persons and Chairs to the Standards Committee and the various sub-committees that dealt with breaches of the Code of Conduct. However, the Localism Act did not allow Independent Chairs of Standards Committees, or Independent Members with voting rights.
The Localism Act required that the Council had at least one Independent Person to act in respect of allegations of breaches of the new Members Code of Conduct. In future, when the Council received a complaint relating to the conduct of an Elected Member, the first stage would be for the Monitoring Officer and the Independent Person to consider whether an investigation should be undertaken. The Independent Person would also be available to advise Members if required.
The Localism Act ruled out the appointment of existing Standards Independent Members being appointed to act as the new Independent Persons. The Council advertised for Independent Persons and received only one application and this was received after the closing date.
It was apparent that other Local Authorities had experienced similar recruitment difficulties and therefore, following representations from the Local Government Association, transitional arrangements were put in place to allow Councils to appoint persons who had previously been an Independent Chair or member of the Councils Standards Committee, as an Independent Person.
Unfortunately it appeared that the transitional regulations had been mis-drafted and the Government was now considering further amending the legislation. As the legislation stood currently, previous Independent Members or Chairs of Standards Committees could be re-appointed to serve as Independent Persons as a transitional, interim measure.
The three previous Independent Chairs had submitted applications to serve as interim Independent Persons and all had a sound understanding of the principles and operation of codes of practice and standards of conduct.
ORDERED that Chris Nestor, Joanne Kidd and Brian Footitt be appointed as Independent Persons for a period of up to two years.