Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee - Thursday, 12th December, 2019 14:00

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices Angel Street Bridgend CF31 4WB. View directions

Contact: Mark Anthony Galvin  Senior Democratic Services Officer - Committees

No. Item


Election of Chairperson


RESOLVED:             That in the absence of the Chairperson, that Mr Jeff Baker be elected Chairperson for the meeting.


                                    (Mr Jeff Baker in the Chair)


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Council on 1 September 2008.





Approval of Minutes pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To receive for approval the Minutes of 07/03/2019



RESOLVED: that the minutes of the 07/03/2019 be approved as a true and accurate record.


Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill pdf icon PDF 67 KB


The Democratic Services Manager presented a report which outlined the key proposals of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill.


He advised that the Bill was published in November this year and presented a number of proposals,  as follows:


Local Government Electoral Arrangements


  • The voting age for local government elections will be lowered from 18 to 16 and the right to stand and vote in local government elections will be extended to qualifying foreign citizens residents in Wales.


  • Local authorities and community councils will be put on a permanent five year electoral cycle, powers will be given to the Welsh Government to establish an all Wales digital electoral register and pilots of new ways to hold local elections will be allowed (i.e all postal voting, new voting hours, electronic voting, electronic counting).


Disqualification criteria to stand as a councillor


  • People who have been declared bankrupt, are registered sex offenders, have served a prison (suspended or not) sentence of 3 months or more will be disqualified.


  • Council staff will be allowed to stand in elections to their employer local authority but will be required to resign if elected.


Governance Arrangements


  • The Bill will introduce a general power of competence for local authorities and eligible community councils, giving the power to act in their respective community’s best interests, generate efficiencies and secure value for money.


  • Local authorities will still need to appoint a Chief Executive but must publish arrangements for managing their performance. The Bill introduces job sharing for Cabinet level positions and places a requirement on councils to have provision for maternity leave for councillors.


  • Standard Committees will be required to publish an Annual Report, while community councils will need to draft and publish a training plan for councillors and staff



  • There will be provision for regional working by more than one local authority through corporate joint committees. It also gives the Welsh Government the power to intervene or order one local authority to assist another one if it is believed a council is not meeting performance requirements (based on self-assessment and peer review).


  • Any mergers will be wholly voluntary. Two or more local authorities can apply to Welsh Government with a merger application. The Bill sets out the formal public consultation process and regulations required to create a merged local authority. Councils can also request to be abolished.


Public engagement


  • Local authorities will be required to publish a public participation strategy. There will also be a duty placed on local authorities to encourage local people to participate in local government.


  • Local authorities will need to introduce public petition schemes, webcast all public meetings (subject to regulations) and make arrangements for remote attendance by councillors. These provisions will not apply to community councils.


  • Community Councils will be required to allow members of the public to make representations during meetings and publish annual reports at the end of each financial year.


The Democratic Services Manager explained that Councils will also be allowed to choose their own voting systems in which elections  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.


Standards Committee Training pdf icon PDF 63 KB


The Democratic Services Manager presented a report which requested the Committee consider appropriate training programmes for the Committee.


He advised that all Members of the Committee had undertaken a comprehensive induction programme which included training on the Code of Conduct. Members had the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops at the Standards Conference Wales held at the University of Wales in 2018. This covered topics such as; sharing best practice in the role of the standards committee, personal and prejudicial interests and dispensations; the practical aspects of holding a Standards Hearing and Social Media and Bullying.


The Democratic Services Manager explained that consideration would also be given to holding joint training sessions with other Standards Committee across Wales and for Members of the Committee to observe other local authorities’ Standards Committees.   The Chairperson explained that it would be beneficial for members of this Committee to be able to observe the proceedings and hearings at other local authorities’ Standards Committees. 


A Member explained that the Ombudsman had advised Monitoring Officers that Councillors would be the subject of  criticism which had led to complaints not being taken forward. 


The Chairperson stressed the importance that Members understand how to conduct themselves at meetings as they need to be robust and formal.


RESOLVED: That Members noted the contents of the report.


Ombudsman Annual Letter 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:


The Democratic Services Manager presented a report which provided Members with a copy of the Ombudsmen’s Annual Letter 2018/19.


He explained that the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) reported annually on the number of complaints against public bodies received by its office.  The number of complaints against the authority had decreased in the period 2018-29, from 40 in 2017-18 to 33 in 2018-19. He advised that none of the complaints received proceeded to investigation with the PSOW intervening in 6 of the cases.


A Member asked about the details surrounding the complaint from 2017/18 where no action was taken. The Democratic Services Manager stated that he would ask the Monitoring Officer to provide detail of  this complaint for the Committee.

A Member asked for details surrounding the complaints that were not progressed, as it would provide a flavour for what types of complaints are actually made.



RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the contents of the report.


Ombudsman Casebook pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Additional documents:


The Democratic Services Manager presented a report which summarised the cases that had been undertaken by the Ombudsman’s Office.


He advised that the consultation was now open on principles and procedures relating to the new powers created by the public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019, which came into force on July 23rd 2019.


He stated that it had been made easier to complain about public services with a range of new powers designed to widen access to justice and reduce poor service delivery. The Ombudsman now accepted verbal complaints, has the power to conduct ‘Own Initiative’ investigations. The new Act had created the Complaints Standards Authority for Wales.


The Democratic Services Manager referred to the Appendix 1 to the report which provided the Casebook for April - June 2019.


RESOLVED: That Members noted the report.


Urgent Items

To consider any item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in

accordance with Part 4 (paragraph 4) of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.