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CLERK'S BRIEFING NOTE

A POLICY FOR DEALING WITH INFORMATION PROVIDED TO THE PARISH COUNCIL IN CONNECTION WITH COMPLAINTS AGAINST PARISH COUNCILLORS UNDER THE 2007 CODE OF CONDUCT

When the Rother Standards Committee is considering a complaint about a Sedlescombe Parish Councillor, it is required to notify SPC of certain information at various stages of the case handling process. This is as a result of changes to the standards framework in 2008. Each complaint will raise different issues and some will be of a more sensitive, confidential or private nature than others.

 

The Standards Board for England has written to parish councils informing them that they should adopt procedures for dealing with notifications taking into account what they can lawfully do always being careful of their obligations under the general law, such as confidentiality and statutory obligations under the Human Rights Act 2000, Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act.

 

The following information should be set out in the procedures:

  1. Who should deal with and be informed of such notifications when they are received?
  2. Whether they should be included on a meeting agenda? If they are, should they be dealt with in the public or private part of a meeting?
  3. The procedures should take into account who will deal with providing further evidence or information needed by standards committees in respect of a complaint.

Rother Monitoring Officer should be informed of the Council's notification procedures which have been implemented.

 

Additionally parish councils and standards committee should consider arrangements to deal with access to information, sharing of information and how various legal obligations are met including those under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act.

 

Parish Councils should also consider how they will deal with media enquiries regarding complaints.

 

DRAFT POLICY

 

1. Notifications from the Rother Monitoring Officer of complaints about Sedlescombe Parish Councillors should be made to the Clerk to the Council.

 

2. The Chairman, or Vice-Chairman if not appropriate, will be provided with the information by the Clerk.

 

3. The Clerk will provide as much information and evidence to the Monitoring Officer as is required to help with consideration of the complaint.

 

4. No further action will be taken to inform the Parish Council unless exceptional circumstances require this to be done when the matter will be placed before a special extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council, the agenda and minutes of which will remain confidential until the result of the complaint investigation is announced by the Rother Standards Board.

 

5. No comment will be made to the media either before, during or after the inquiry is completed.

 

6. On completion of the complaints investigation by Rother Standards Committee, the Parish Council will consider whether changes to its methods of working are required in order to reduce the possibility of a complaint being made about a Sedlescombe Parish Councillor.