Standards (Hearings) Sub-Committee Minutes

Standards (Hearings) Sub-Committee Minutes

Date:
Friday 16 February 2018
Time:
10:00 a.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
J Rostron, (Chair), Davison, D Rooney, Storey, J Young
Observers:
S Bunn and P McGill
Invitees:
Councillor Lawton
Officers:
S Bonner, S Dorchell, A Hoy, D Johnson, S Lightwing, A Pain, S Reynolds
Apologies for absence:
All Committee members were present
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made at this point of the meeting

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
17/7 APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR

Following the resignation of the previous Chair, nominations were sought for the appointment of Chair of the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year 2017-2018, or until amended by the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee.

 

ORDERED that Councillor Rostron was appointed as Chair of the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year 2017-2018, or until amended by the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee.

17/8 MINUTES - STANDARDS (HEARINGS) SUB COMMITTEE - 9.30 AM - 20 JULY 2017

The minutes of the meeting of the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee held at 9.30 am on 20 July 2017 were taken as read and approved as a true record.

17/9 MINUTES - STANDARDS (HEARINGS) SUB COMMITTEE - 1.30 PM - 20 JULY 2017

Councillor J Young proposed the following amendments to the minutes of the meeting of the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee held at 1.00 pm on 20 July 2017: 

 

1.  Page 1  - Officers - L Henman to be added to the attendance.

 

2.  Page 3 - Paragraph 6 - remove the words "these were not made out" and replace with "there was no evidence for these and we encouraged Councillor Rathmell to forward complaints about other Councillors to Standards".

 

3.  Page 3 - Insert an additional paragraph as follows: "The Committee agreed to refer complaints from Councillor Rathmell regarding the Chief Executive to the Constitution and Members Development Committee."

 

Since there were no other Members of that Sub Committee present at the meeting to confirm the amendments proposed at 2 and 3 above, the Deputy Monitoring Officer suggested that approval was sought from the other Sub Committee Members present at that meeting.

 

NOTED

17/10 EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

ORDERED that the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that, if present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 12A of Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1972 and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

Councillor Lawton indicated that he intended to make an audio recording of the meeting.  The meeting was adjourned.

EXEMPT
17/11 STANDARDS COMPLAINTS REF: MSC/010/2017, MSC/014/2017

The meeting was re-convened and Councillor Lawton was not present.

 

The Investigating Officer presented her report, a copy of which had been circulated prior to the meeting, regarding an investigation which had been undertaken in accordance with the prevailing legislation and guidance in relation to allegations that Councillor Lawton had breached the Member's Code of Conduct thereby bringing the Council or his role as a Councillor into disrepute.

 

A summary of the complaints, details of the relevant legislation, protocols and Members' Code of Conduct, the review process, findings of fact and conclusions were presented by the Investigating Officer.

 

Committee Members were given the opportunity to question the Investigating Officer in relation to her report.

 

Having considered the Investigating Officer's report, the supporting documentation, the Investigating Officer's comments and questioning, the Sub Committee considered the findings of fact, and based on those findings, whether Councillor Lawton had failed to comply with the Members' Code of Conduct.

 

In regard to the allegations, the Sub Committee unanimously supported the findings of the Investigating Officer's Report.  The Committee concluded that Councillor Lawton had breached the Members' Code of Conduct in respect of the complaints.

  

It was ORDERED that the following sanctions be imposed:

 

1. Councillor Lawton to be Censured and this Censure to be made in public.

 

2. Councillor Lawton and the Officers who had made the complaints referred to in the Investigating Officer’s report to be invited to attend mediation.

 

3. In addition, Councillor Lawton was required to write to all persons named in the Investigating Officer’s Report dated 23 January 2018, with an apology for his conduct, produced in such a way that it could be made public.

 

4. Councillor Lawton would not be entitled receive any Council documents which were deemed Confidential, forthwith.

 

5. Councillor Lawton was required to undertake training in relation to the Data Protection Act 1988.

 

6. The following sanctions imposed at the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee held at 9.30 am on 20 July 2017 to remain in force as follows:

  • Councillor Lawton would retain his Council IT equipment but email access would be limited to the Onestop to prevent abuse.
  • Email access would be restored at such a point in time as Councillor Lawton wrote to all persons named in the Investigating Officer's Report with an apology for his conduct, produced in such a way that it could be made public.
  • Social media access through Councillor Lawton's Council IT equipment would be disabled.
  • Whether through Onestop or otherwise, email communications from Councillor Lawton which sought to deal with matters that had already received a response would be filed without action and emails raising wholly new issues would be forwarded to Officers for action.
  • Councillor Lawton was required to undertake training in relation to the Code of Conduct, use of appropriate challenge and social media usage.
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