Standards Committee (Wirral Council) 18th March 2013 Part 1 Standards Working Group

Standards Committee (Wirral Council) 18th March 2013


Mr Brian Cummings
Mr. Chris Jones
Cllr Moira McLaughlin
Cllr Steve Foulkes (deputy for Cllr Denise Roberts)
Cllr John Salter
Cllr Simon Mountney (deputy for Cllr Leah Fraser)
Cllr Mike Hornby (deputy for Cllr Les Rowlands (spokesperson))
Cllr John Hale (deputy for Cllr Chris Blakeley)
Cllr Bill Davies (Chair)
Cllr Tom Harney (spokesperson)

The Chair welcomed and gave apologies for Cllr Denise Roberts, Cllr Chris Blakeley, Cllr Leah Fraser and Cllr Les Rowlands. No declarations of interest were made. Cllr McLaughlin pointed out a correction to the minutes of the meeting held on the 19th November 2012, in the section “Report of the Member Steering Group” a date of 3rd July 2013 should have read 3rd July 2012.

Mr. Tour said that the minutes of the Standards Working Group detailed its discussions of the 4th February 2013, the key item for discussion was the Members ICT Policy. Some amendments had been put forward to the ICT policy.

Cllr Ron Abbey arrived.

Mr. Tour continued that since the new regime for complaints had been brought in on the 1st July 2012 there had only been two complaints made so the new arrangements hadn’t yet been fully tested. However he said the reduction in complaints was an “encouraging sign” but made it difficult to review the new arrangements.

The Standards Working Group had recommended that the three Group Leaders be asked if the Council should continue with a Standards Committee, Mr. Tour had received a response back only from Cllr Jeff Green. A page was circulated detailing which Merseyside authorities had continued with a standards committee and which had not.

The Chair said he’d consulted his leadership, who thought they should have a Standards Committee, even if it only met once a year. He thought the Working Group meeting on the 22nd April should maybe be brought forward.

Cllr Hale said he hadn’t quite catch what was said by Surjit Tour that the response from the party leaders had been. Mr. Tour said that the only written response had been from Cllr Green, who didn’t see the need for a Standards Committee. The Chair said that the response from their Leader had been to retain the Standards Committee, as he (the Chair) thought it was better to have something in place versus nothing.

Cllr Foulkes said, “I tend to try and think about these sort of things, not how we as insiders view things, but how the world outside may view it and certainly there’s no doubt that the Council’s been through a rough time recently in terms of how the way people view it. Time is everything in politics and the way you do things, that whether the signal of we’ll lose the Standards Committee, at this point in our evolution, if we are getting better and at some point we are, then we value being able to say, ‘Well we don’t need a Standards Committee, as we’re that much better that there’ll be less work to do’.”

“However what I do welcome about this Committee is the view of the independent members being on it and to the outside world, one independent view of how we do business and how we conduct ourselves, we may by default like some other councils do for entirely the wrong reasons lose, throw the baby out with the bath water, so my view is that we need to keep the conversation going and we may well as savings have to be made have to rationalise committees…. but I certainly think the Standards Committee should not go.”

Continues at Part 2.

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

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