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Items
No. Item

SHS 17/1

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

Decisions taken under Delegated Powers in accordance with Paragraph 3, Part 3 of the Constitution

SHS 17/2

The Hearing Panel to determine whether the confidential report may be considered in public

Minutes:

The Hearing Panel was advised that the Hearing should be held in public unless it was determined that there was a good reason to exclude the public.

 

RESOLVED:  That the allegation that a Member of Borough Green Parish Council and two Members of Wrotham Parish Council had breached the Code of Conduct of those bodies be considered in public. 

SHS 17/3

Code of Conduct Complaint against three Parish Councillors pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Hearing Panel of the Joint Standards Committee gave consideration to an allegation that Councillor Mike Taylor had breached the Code of Conduct of Borough Green Parish Council and that Councillors Robin Betts and Harry Rayner had breached the Code of Conduct of Wrotham Parish Council.

 

The Panel received the report of the independent external investigator (Investigating Officer), Mr Richard Lingard, Solicitor, who had been appointed to carry out the investigation into the allegation.  The report, dated 17 October 2016, contained details of the relevant legislation and protocols, evidence gathered, witness statements and the Subject Members’ response to the complaint.  In addition to the Investigating Officer’s report the Panel agreed to accept and have regard to a written Statement made by Councillor Rayner on 2 June 2017 and a Character Reference for Councillor Betts submitted at the commencement of to the Hearing.

 

The Investigating Officer made an oral presentation to the Panel regarding the complaint made by Mrs Sheila Smith, Chairman of Governors at Wrotham School, about the conduct of Councillor Taylor of Borough Green Parish Council and of Councillors Betts and Rayner of Wrotham Parish Council while at Wrotham School on Friday 4th March, 2016. The report concluded that there had been a breach of the Codes of Conduct of the two parish councils. 

 

The Investigating Officer was cross examined at length by Mr Peter Oldham, Counsel for Councillor Rayner with regard to the incident on 4 March 2016 and in respect of Councillor Rayner’s email of 9 March 2016.  Mr Lingard responded to a number of questions from Councillor Betts regarding the scope and process of the investigation with particular reference to the lack of CCTV footage to support the evidence given by the parties involved in the complaint.  Councillor Taylor stated that he had no questions to put to Mr Lingard. 

 

Mr Oldham presented the Statement made by Councillor Rayner on 2 June 2017 and Councillor Rayner responded to the questions put to him by the Investigating Officer and Members of the Panel.  Councillor Taylor did not present any further evidence but stated his belief that the school was ‘covering up’ financial irregularity.  No questions were put to Councillor Taylor.  Councillor Betts gave a detailed statement on the reason for his presence at the school and responded to the questions put by Members of the Panel regarding the events prior to and on 4 March 2016. 

 

The Panel heard the views of the Independent Person, Mr David Ashton, and sought clarification from the Monitoring Officer regarding the inclusion of Councillor Rayner’s email of 9 March 2016 within the complaint.  It was subsequently confirmed that the scope of the investigation excluded anything which did not occur on 4 March 2016.

 

The Panel had regard to all the evidence including the Investigating Officer’s report and the evidence given by the Subject Members, both written and oral, and having taken into account the views of the Independent Person, came to the following decision in respect of whether the Subject Members  ...  view the full minutes text for item SHS 17/3