Venue: Framland Committee Room, County Hall, Glenfield
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Election of Chairman for the meeting.
It was proposed and seconded that Mr D. Jennings CC be appointed Chairman. There were no other nominations.
Mr D. Jennings CC in the Chair
Declarations of Interest.
There were no declarations of interest.
In response to a question from Mr J. Kaufman CC, the Deputy Monitoring Officer advised him and the Panel as a whole that although they would know to Mr. Charlesworth as a Member, possibly for a number of years, this did not preclude them from sitting on the Panel unless they felt they could not consider the complaint objectively. He confirmed that it was accepted practice that complaints against elected members would be considered by a Panel of their peers.
Members considered a report of the County Council’s Monitoring Officer, regarding two complaints made against Mr. M. H. Charlesworth CC which alleged that he had breached the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct. A copy of the report is attached to these minutes marked ‘Agenda Item 3’.
Attached to the Monitoring Officers report were the investigation report prepared by the independent investigator Mr. Jonathan Goolden of Wilkin Chapman LLP (the investigator), and a letter from the independent person, Ms. Natalie Ainscough of Hoey Ainscough Associates Ltd (the independent person). Copies of both these documents are also filed with these minutes.
The Chairman welcomed the investigator and the independent person to the meeting.
Mr. Charlesworth was not present at the meeting. The Panel therefore first considered whether or not to continue in his absence.
The Chairman sought advice from the Deputy Monitoring Officer who highlighted to the Panel an email sent by Mr. Charlesworth on 17th June 2018 in which he confirmed that he wished for the “Panel to carry on regardless of whether or not he attended”.
After confirming there were no objections from those present, the Panel AGREED to proceed with the meeting.
The Panel then considered whether or not the meeting should be held in public or private.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer reported on comments made by Mr. Charlesworth in two emails dated 1st June and 17th June confirming that he did not consider that “any part of the investigation should be withheld from the public and that all of the hearing should be in public.”
At the request of the Chairman, the Monitoring Officer confirmed her view that there was no reason for the Panel to move the meeting into private session, except during its deliberations. The investigation report had already been made public with the agenda for the meeting. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that prior to circulation of the agenda papers she had consulted with the investigator and both had agreed that no personal or confidential information was contained within his report which would warrant it being regarded as ‘exempt’ in accordance with Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.
The Panel AGREED
that the hearing should be held in public, save for the Panel deliberations
when the pubic would be excluded.
Presentation of the Complaints
At the invitation of the Chairman, the Monitoring Officer presented an overview of the complaints received and the processes followed to investigate these. She confirmed that:
· Following the decision of the Member Conduct Panel at its meeting in September 2017 that an investigation should be carried out, she had instructed Jonathan Goolden of Wilkin Chapman LLP. He was regarded as an expert in this field and had significant experience of dealing with elected member complaints.
· Mr. Charlesworth had been sent a copy of the completed investigation report and had been provided with the contact details of the independent person who he could consult directly.
· Mr Charlesworth had not engaged in the process throughout.
The Chairman then invited the investigator to present his report. The investigator highlighted the following points:
i. It was a legal requirement that the Council establish a panel of at least three independent members to make recommendations on the Members’ Allowance Scheme.
ii. The selection and appointment of the three members of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) had followed the Council’s proper procedures. The Council’s Political Group Leaders had been consulted on the Panel’s composition. There was no indication that the members of the IRP were not independent.
iii. The three Political Group Leaders had been consulted at ... view the full minutes text for item 8.