The Borough Secretary and Solicitor submitted a report summarising the Standards Committee (Further Provisions) England Regulations 2009 which had come into force on 15th June.
The Regulations set out new provisions relating to the initial assessment of complaints; new rules about dispensations in certain circumstances where Members had a personal and prejudicial interest and gave local authorities the option to set up Joint Standards Committees to discharge all or some of the standards’ functions in Part III of the Local Government Act 2000.
The Regulations relating to the initial assessment of complaints enabled the Standards Board for England (SBE) to suspend the initial assessment functions of local Standards Committees and direct them to refer allegations to the SBE or to the Standards Committee of another local authority in prescribed circumstances. It was not considered that this was likely to occur in Slough as the authority had had no adverse comments from the Board since the standards regime had come into force in 2000.
The subject of all six local authorities in Berkshire setting up a Joint Standards Committee had been discussed by the Berkshire Solicitors’ Group which included Monitoring Officer or Deputy Monitoring Officer representatives from each of the six authorities and there was no real enthusiasm to set up any such joint committee.
By law, members wishing to apply for a dispensation were required to submit an application in writing for consideration by the Standards Committee. It was up to the Committee to decide whether or not a dispensation should be granted and what criteria should be applied when considering such a request. The Borough Secretary and Solicitor indicated that such criteria were currently being drafted with a view to them being submitted to the next meeting of the Committee for consideration.
(a) That the report be noted.
(b) That the criteria to be applied in considering Member dispensation requests be submitted to the next meeting of the Standards Committee for consideration.