Venue: Online - via Zoom
Contact: Hannah Stevenson 01344 352308
Election of Chairman
To elect a Chairman for the Panel meeting.
RESOLVED that Councillor Allen be elected Chairman of the Code of Conduct Panel.
Apologies for Absence
To receive apologies of absence.
Apologies were received from Councillor Neil. Cllr Mrs Temperton had been nominated as her substitute.
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.
Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.
Any Member with an Affected Interest in a matter must disclose the interest to the meeting. There is no requirement to withdraw from the meeting when the interest is only an affected interest, but the Monitoring Officer should be notified of the interest, if not previously notified of it, within 28 days of the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
To conduct the Code of Conduct Panel Hearing in line with the procedure
The Panel noted the Code of Conduct Panel Hearing Procedure which would be followed.
Exclusion of Public and Press
The Panel will determine whether the Public and Press should be excluded from the meeting and whether any or all documents should be withheld as agenda item 6 is supported by Annexes containing exempt information as defined in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.
If the Panel wishes to discuss the content of these annexes in detail, it may choose to move the following resolution:
That pursuant to Regulation 4 of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) Regulations 2012 and having regard to the public interest, members of the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the consideration of item 6 which involves the likely disclosure of exempt information under the following category of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972:
(1) Information relating to any individual.
If the Panel choose not to discuss the annexes in closed session, the annexes relating to the Code of Conduct complaint will be published straight away on the Bracknell Forest Council website and the Panel will continue in public session.
The Code of Conduct Panel moved briefly into closed session to hear representations from the Monitoring Officer and Subject Member in order to determine whether the Hearing should remain in open session or move into closed session.
After hearing the representations, the Panel agreed that the hearing would continue in open session, and that the restricted annexes to the Monitoring Officers report be published with any third parties mentioned being redacted.
To determine a complaint against a Parish Councillor and consider the Monitoring Officers report.
The Code of Conduct Panel met to consider a complaint which had been brought against Councillor Richard Price, a Crowthorne Parish Councillor and to determine whether Councillor Price had breached Crowthorne Parish Council’s Code of Conduct For Members And Co-Opted Members.
The Panel considered the reports from the Monitoring Officer and Investigating Officer, as well as oral submissions given by the Investigating Officer’s Witness, Mrs Melanie Saville, and Councillor Price.
Councillor Price had accepted one of the breaches of the Code that had been found against him within the report, and had apologised for this incident, but felt that he was not at fault for the other incidents raised.
Prior to the Panel’s deliberations on whether Councillor Price had failed to comply with the Code of Conduct, the Independent Person, Dr Louis Lee expressed his view that based on the facts presented to the Panel, Councillor Price had breached the Code of Conduct.
After consideration of all that had been presented to it, both orally and in writing, The Code of Conduct Panel determined, on balance, that Councillor Price had breached the Parish Council’s Conduct of Conduct and also its Equality and Fair Treatment Policy on the occasions and to the extent as had been set out in the Investigator’s Report.
In agreeing with the findings of the Investigator’s Report, the Code of Conduct Panel determined that in respect of the seven incidents of complaint that had been investigated, thirteen counts of breach of paragraph 3 of the Code of Conduct and including 6 counts of breach of paragraphs 1, 2 and 5 of its Equality and Fair Treatment Policy were proved and upheld, namely;
· Bringing the Parish Council or the Office of Councillor into disrepute (Upheld on 1 Count)
· Bullying the Complainant or others (Upheld on 6 Counts)
· Failing to treat the Complainant or others with respect (Upheld on 6 Counts)
The Code of Conduct Panel agreed with the Investigator’s findings that there had, however, been no incident or element of discrimination of others by Councillor Price.
The Code of Conduct Panel determined that Councillor Price had breached the Parish Council’s Code of Conduct in respect to six of the seven incidents in 2020 as set out in the Investigator’s report as the Panel considered that his behaviour towards Mrs Melanie Saville, the Clerk of Crowthorne Parish Council on those occasions had been unacceptable. The Panel felt that Councillor Price’s offer of a revised apology from him along with Code of Conduct training was not a reasonable sanction.
The Panel noted Councillor’s Price’s submission that he had not intended to bully the Complainant or anyone else during the incidents complained of and also noted Councillor Price’s willingness to accept that those incidents described may have been construed by the recipient as bullying even though that was not his intention at the time. However, the Panel considered that Councillor Price’s acknowledgment did not go far enough. The Panel considered that Councillor Price failed to accept that his behaviour towards the ... view the full minutes text for item 6.