Agenda item

To receive a summary from the Monitoring Officer.



Click here to view a recording of this item on You Tube


The Monitoring Officer presented the report which provided a summary and analysis of the Code of Conduct complaints received and/or determined in the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 in relation to both Borough Councillors and Parish Councillors from the 101 Parishes within West Norfolk.


The Committee’s attention was drawn to the key issues set out in the report.  Members are directed to Appendix A.


The Chair thanked the Monitoring Officer for the report and invited questions and comments from the Committee and those Councillors attending under Standing Order 34.


In response to a question from Councillor Sandell, the Monitoring Officer provided clarification on “carry out duties”.


Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Ryves commented on the number of complaints received in relation to Methwold Parish Council (6 out of the 17 reported).  In response, the Monitoring Officer outlined the reasons why there may have been an increase in the number of complaints received from Parish Councils.


Following questions from Ring on what happened with an investigation if a Councillor was re-elected, the Monitoring Officer explained that an investigation was terminated when a Councillor’s term came to an end or resigned.  If, however, a Councillor was re-elected and a subsequent complaint was received regarding the same issue then a decision would be made to see if the work already undertaken could be used to look at the “new complaint.” The Monitoring Officer provided an overview of the process and referred to case law/tribunal in relation to a Freedom of Information of Information and Subject Access requests. 


Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Ryves explained that the feedback received from Methwold Parish Council was that it took a lot of time to investigate a complaint.  In response, the Monitoring Officer explained that the reason was that complaints were investigated by Eastlaw (the provider of legal services to the Borough Council).  The Committee was advised that the legal and governance functions had now been brought back in-house and there was now the appropriate resource and key performance indicators had been set and would be monitored to give a decision within 25 to 30 working days from the date a complaint was received.


Following a further question from Councillor Ryves on the rights of the public under the Freedom of Information Act, the Monitoring Officer explained that it a request was received for a copy of the Decision Notice or the draft held on file there was a two stage process and very few occasions when a copy of the Decision Notice would not be released.


In response to questions and comments from Councillor Nash regarding a complaint he had personally raised and what would the right of appeal be, the Monitoring Officer explained this would be subject to a judicial review, legal advice by the complainant or by raising a corporate complaint/Local Government Ombudsman on the way the complaint had been handled.  If the complaint was upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman the Monitoring Officer would be made aware.


RESOLVED:  The Committee noted the contents of the report, and in particular the contents of Appendix A.


Supporting documents: