Venue: Council Chamber, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent
Contact: Emily Kennedy
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillor Tomlinson, substituted by Councillor Ashbee.
To receive any declarations of interest. Members are advised to consider the advice contained within the Declaration of Interest advice attached to this Agenda. If a Member declares an interest, they should complete the Declaration of Interest Form
Mr Tim Howes, Director of Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer declared an interest as the subject under discussion in agenda item 3 as the item was about employment conditions for council employees.
To approve the Minutes of the Constitutional Review Working Party meeting held on 21 June 2019, copy attached.
Councillor Stevens proposed, Councillor Hopkinson seconded and Members agreed the minutes as a correct record of the Constitutional Review Working Party meeting that was held on 21 June 2019.
Dr Sexton, Chairman of the working party gave a brief background to the subject for discussion and said that the issue had been considered by the Constitutional Review Working Party who made recommendations to the Standards Committee, who in turn recommended the proposed standing orders relating to staff to Council for decision.
Mr Tim Howes explained to Members that the item had been referred back to the Constitutional Review Working Party because of some concerns about some aspects of the proposed standing orders. The major concerns were with regards to the filter mechanism to reviewing cases.
The officer advice was that the filter should be managed by the CEx in cases involving the Monitoring Officer and the Monitoring Officer in cases involving the CEx. Mr Howes advised that using the General Purposes Committee to manage the filter mechanism would be an approach outside the JNC practice guidance.
If the working party were to adopt the approach where the GPC were to manage the filter mechanism, there would be operational challenges of how such a protocol could be fairly managed. The Committee would find the following operational issues a challenge to manage:
· Right of reply;
· Providing evidence;
· Right of appeal;
Mr Howes indicated that the middle of the ground approach could be that the CEx and Monitoring Officer could manage the filter process in consultation with GPC Chairman. The JNC model protects staff from political accusations. The practice guidance encourages informal resolutions first before engaging the formal process.
Contributing to discussion, Members raised the following points:
· A committee of elected Members should look at staff issues brought before the committee to determine whether the issues were a valid grievance, disciplinary issue or frivolous;
· It would be helpful if the following wording in the model was removed from the process, “The Chief Executive will determine whether the allegations against the Chief Financial Officer or Monitoring Officer are ‘disciplinary matters’ as defined in the 1993 regulation. In respect of allegations against the Chief Executive, the Monitoring Officer will make that determination.”
· Screening should not be done by statutory officers;
· It was unlikely that three or four political group representatives on the committee could use political motivation to push through a frivolous issue;
· The solution for filtering out impropriety through involvement of statutory officers would be to involve the three political party group leaders;
· Political bias should not come into this process because committee members have been trained and understand the role of this committee;
· There is a need to ensure that there was complete robustness and faith in the process being proposed, so that issues were not illegitimately filtered out;
· There was a perception problem of involving statutory officers in the filtering process;
· Political bias can be filtered out through the involvement of the independent investigator;
· There will be instances where some cases were dealt with by council departments and other occasions were some matters would be referred to the General Purposes Committee;
· In the main councillors through the committee should filter ... view the full minutes text for item 117.