Standards Committee (Wirral Council) 3/7/2012 Part 2 (2) Minutes, (3) Declarations of Interest

Standards Committee 3rd July 2012

Photo caption: From Left to Right
Cllr Steve Williams (Conservative), Cllr Chris Blakeley (Conservative), Cllr Les Rowlands (Conservative), Shirley Hudspeth (Officer – Committee Clerk), Surjit Tour (Legal Adviser), Malcolm Flanagan (Report author agenda item 5 & item 6), Unknown Labour councillor (1), Unknown Labour councillor (2)

This is continued from part 1.

Agenda Item 2 – Minutes 11:35 to 12:22

Agenda Item 3 – Declarations of Interest 12:22 to 20:29

Cllr Chris Blakeley declared an interest on Agenda Item 7 (Standards Complaints – Monitoring (Under the Old Standards Regime)) in relation to complaint SfE 2011/03 as he was one of the councillors complained about.
Cllr Ron Abbey asked for clarity.
The Chair asked the legal adviser for advice.
Cllr Ron Abbey said he was not privy to past cases he hadn’t been involved with, then asked a question.
Surjit Tour said a finding of “No Further Action” had been found and the regulations obliged them to issue a notice or press release unless the councillors concerned objected. He said this decision was on the public record.
Cllr Ron Abbey said he was happy with the process, but concerned.
Cllr Chris Blakeley said he wished to talk as he had some concerns and it would still be a matter of public record.
Surjit Tour reminded him not to reveal confidential information subject to caveats.
The Chair asked people to remember there were deputies here tonight and referred to the training of deputies and how the deputies should be trained.
Cllr John Salter said he was part of a complaint although he was unsure where it is. He asked Surjit for advice on whether he had to declare?
Surjit Tour said he didn’t have to as he couldn’t be identified.
Cllr Chris Blakeley said he’d been quite specific as to which one.
Cllr Bill Davies said something about legal advice
Cllr Les Rowlands asked for clarification, he said he had sat on some of these panels and made decisions. He asked if it was necessary to declare an interest? 18:00
Surjit Tour said, “The difficulty here is it depends on what is said … and this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation.” He didn’t want an inappropriate statement made. He went on to mention the question of confidentiality in place at the time. Any commentary would have to be factual. He said the press notice, would indicate the detail the nature of the complaint, parts of the Code [of Conduct] questioned, ultimately the decision of the panel and be very factual as opposed to comments.
Cllr Les Rowlands declared an interest of all the panels he sat on.
Surjit Tour said the difficulty was he was not able to determine which. The critical issue was other than fact he felt there should be no other comments made, any comments limited to within public notice which was governed by confidentiality rules.
Cllr Bill Davies declared an interest as he himself had been on many assessment panels so he was in the same position.

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