Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee - Friday, 18th March, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Forde House, Brunel Road, Newton Abbot, TQ12 4XX. View directions

No. Item


Order of Agenda


The Chair announced that item 6 Notice of Motion from Councillor Eden would be taken before item 5 Members Code of Conduct and Behaviour.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 6 July 2021.



The minutes of the meeting of 6 July 2021 were approved as a correct record and signed by the chair.



Declarations of Interest





Member Complaint Process pdf icon PDF 91 KB


Members discussed the complaints process.


RESOLVED that the following Member complaints process be approved as follows:-






The Council will aim to acknowledge receipt of complaints within 5 working days. The Monitoring Officer will consider whether it appears that there has been a breach of the code of conduct. At this stage if the complaint is not to progress further the Monitoring Officer will notify the complainant in writing of that fact.


If the complaint amounts to a potential breach of the code the Monitoring Officer will write to the subject member with details of the complaint, including those of the complainant (unless any confidentiality request has been agreed) and seek their views.


The subject member of the complaint will provide their written comments, with supporting documentation or indicate that they do not wish to provide a written response to the complaint.


If the complaint identifies criminal conduct or breach of other regulation by any person, the Monitoring Officer has the power to call in the Police and other regulatory agencies.


The Monitoring Officer will consider the complaint again in the context of any written submissions and supporting documentation provided by the subject member and will seek the views of the Independent Person.


 The Monitoring Officer will review and decide if the complaint can be resolved by way of local resolution. There may be occasions when Group Leaders could be asked to facilitate a local resolution or whether it requires a further formal investigation.  


Where informal resolution is not possible, the Monitoring Officer will refer the complaint to the Chair of Standards Committee to decide whether a formal investigation is required by an external Independent investigation officer.


If formal investigation is required, an Independent investigation officer will be appointed. Both the complainant, the subject member and the Independent Person will receive a draft copy of the investigating officer’s report and will have the opportunity to respond to it. The investigating officer will then produce a final report.


Once the final report is received the report will be referred to the Standards Committee for consideration and action as appropriate.




Notice of Motion - Cllr Eden

Background provided by Cllr Eden to the Motion:


There are quite a number of gaps that have developed in the Standards Process – some highlighted in my previous motion on Standards Hearings procedure. There also needs to be a wider more precise application of what is or isn’t acceptable in terms of conflict of interest.


Recently, this council had to resort to requesting an intervention from the PAS (Planning Advisory Service) over a matter that from the perspective of the general public should be quite clear cut.


From my experience chairing ethics committees in the NHS and from my professional training in matters of conflict and probity, it is clear that the result of the PAS report was far from satisfactory. We need to sharpen our focus on conflict or interest and raise the standard of those definitions.


Doing so will reduce the possibility of a councillor having their impartiality, integrity or probity being called into account.


Wording of Motion proposed by Cllr Eden:-


With that in mind, I would like to propose that the following definitions are added or amended.

1)    The definition of a Conflict of Interest to be extended (in respect of family and friends) for all elected members to reflect the high standards set by the Charity Commission in respect of a ‘Connected Person’ - defined as follows;

Connected person: In broad terms this means family, relatives or business partners of a councillor, as well as businesses in which a councillor has an interest through ownership or influence. The term includes a councillor’s spouse or unmarried partner, or civil partner, children, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents, as well as businesses where a councillor or family member holds at least one-fifth of the shareholding or voting rights.”

The Council’s legal team would be able to advise (where there is any doubt), but such advice should be made a public record.


2)    Conflicts of Loyalty to be introduced as a notifiable requirement. This is defined as follows;

Conflict of loyalty: This means a particular type of conflict of interest, in which a councillor’s loyalty or duty to another person or organisation could prevent the councillor from making a decision only in the best interests of the council or the residents.”


3)    Register of interests to include membership of ANY organisation that the member knows an officer of the council is also a member – for instance; Freemasons, professional bodies etc. Devon County Council requires members notify their membership of the Freemasons and TDC should do so right away.

This is an extension of the second point in the motion about Conflicts of Loyalty but deals potentially with influence exerted externally on, or by a councillor or officer.



Members deferred this item to a future Standards Committee meeting to enable Cllr Eden to be given the opportunity to attend and present the Notice of Motion.



Member Code of Conduct and Behaviour


Members discussed the behaviour of members over the previous two years including the lack of meaningful sanctions for those Members to be found to have breached the Members Code of Conduct.


Members asked that a paper be brought to a future meeting to outline what meaningful sanctions the Council could apply for those to be found to have breached the Members Code of Conduct.