SPC logo

CLERK'S BRIEFING NOTE 23/12

SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL

DISPENSATIONS

1. LOCALISM ACT 2011. The Localism Act 2011 introduced new rules on dispensations as part of the new Code of Conduct arrangements.

2. It is now a criminal offence for Members to fail to register a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or to speak and/or vote where they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest unless they have obtained a dispensation. It is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000 and disqualification as a councillor for up to five years.

3. It is no longer the responsibility of the District Council Standards Committee to grant dispensations to parish councillors. This is now the responsibility of the parish council itself.

4. Precept Setting. Under previous legislation, members did not have a prejudicial interest in circumstances that affected the majority of councillors, such as precept setting. This has now changed and, in accordance with the law, councillors cannot now set the precept if they live within the parish because they have a pecuniary interest. In Sedlescombe, this applies to all the councillors as they all live within the parish and thus the business of the Council would not be able to proceed as the meetings would be inquorate. However, it appears that it is possible for the Council to grant a General Dispensation to all members to speak and vote where they would otherwise have a disclosable pecuniary interest, on the grounds that it is in the public interest and appropriate to grant a dispensation to allow all members to participate fully in the following matters:

  1. Setting the precept for the parish of Sedlescombe

  2. Paying travelling allowances for councillors

I would, therefore, suggest that the Council considers passing the following resolution: That Sedlescombe Parish Council grants a general dispensation to all councillors, despite their pecuniary interests, to allow them to set the precept for the parish of Sedlescombe and to pay travelling allowances to councillors. 6. Request for dispensation. All councillors should carefully consider whether they should apply for dispensation to allow them to take part and vote on other matters in which they have a disclosable interest. This will include all matters that have already been disclosed by members in their official forms which are now displayed on the Parish Council and District Council website and any others that arise. If they do not seek dispensation, they should leave the meeting during the relevant discussions if the matter is a disclosable pecuniary one and should not vote, if it is a personal interest.

7. Dispensation Form. In order to help members, the Clerk will produce a form which should be completed and returned to the Clerk prior to the meeting whenever a member wishes to apply for dispensation.

8. Draft Dispensation Form

2012 CODE OF CONDUCT - APPLICATION FOR DISPENSATION

1. Name of councillor..................................................................

2. I write to request dispensation to allow me to take a full part in all discussions and any vote at meetings of the Parish Council and its committees on the following subject in which I have an interest.

3. My interest is pecuniary (Appendix A declarations) or personal (Appendix B declarations) or significant [delete as applicable]

Please describe your interest

......................................................................................................................

4. The reason I believe I should receive dispensation is as follows [delete as applicable below to leave a), b) or c)]

a) Otherwise, the number of members prohibited from taking part in the meeting would impede the transaction of the business.

b) It is in the interests of the inhabitants in the Council's area to allow me to take part.

c) It is otherewise appropriate to grant a dispensation - please provide details.

5. I have/have not already declared this interest to the District Monitoring Officer.

6. I wish the dispensation to continue until........................................................[maximum May 2015]

The following should be completed by the Clerk:

At a meeting of the Council/Committee held on.............................................. and Minute No.
the Council/Committee agreed either

  1. To grant dispensation or
  2. To refuse to grant dispensation

Details will be available in the Minutes