Agenda and minutes

Ethics Committee
Monday, 26th November, 2018 6.30 pm

Venue: F10, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Annette Wiles
020 8726 6000 x64877  Email: annette.wiles@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

2/18

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 70 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2018 as an accurate record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2018 were agreed as an accurate record.

3/18

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interests.

4/18

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

5/18

Review of the Council's Whistleblowing Policy pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To receive the report of the Director of Law reviewing the Council’s Whilstleblowing Policy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer provided an introduction to the review of the Council’s Whistleblowing Policy. It was highlighted that the existing policy aimed to be open and transparent; employees could raise any issue of concern directly with the Director of Law and Governance in addition to an external and independent organisation (Protect).

 

It was approximately five years since the Whistleblowing Policy was last reviewed. The purpose of the review was therefore to look at good practice and ensure the policy was still in line with guidance as provided by the Department for Innovation and Skills.

 

The proposed revisions were detailed:

·         the independent organisation to which issues of concern could be raised had changed its name to Protect;

·         the definition of “whistleblowing” had been clarified;

·         clarification that to qualify as a “protected disclosure”, this must be made in the public interest; and

·         the list of persons to whom a protected disclosure could be made had been updated.

It was highlighted that confidentiality was key to any Whistleblowing Policy and its integrity. However, it was noted that this could make investigations difficult. Therefore, there was a need for sensitivity. The potential overlap between public interest and employment issues was stressed and that in some instances it was better to use employment procedures to deal with complaints and grievances.

 

The Head of Litigation, Corporate Law and Deputy Monitoring Officer clarified that in conducting the review, the Director of Human Resources and Unions (via the staff consultation panel) had been consulted. No comment had been made by Unison, GMB or Unite on the proposed changes.  It was also noted that training was to be provided in the New Year for all those involved in making assessments.

 

In response to Member questions, the Head of Litigation and Corporate Law clarified:

·         Staff were made aware of the Whistleblowing Policy which was available on the intranet and forms part of the Croydon staff handbook; and

·         The list of “Prescribed Persons” (3.4) to whom a protected disclosure could be made is detailed. Who was most relevant/appropriate was determined by the nature of the concern;

The Committee then took each page of the policy discussing the content and making suggestions for revisions in turn. The following were noted:

·         Page 15: Aims of the Policy: reference to ‘deliberate concealment of information’ was to comply with legislation;

·         Page 16: Designated Assessors: grounds for declining an investigation to be updated where specialists knowledge required;

·         Page 16: Departmental references for designated assessors to be revised to reflect Council structure. The Director of Law & Governance advised accessors were usually either the Head of Service or more senior. There was no need for a designated assessor in each directorate – just enough to cover the quantity of protected disclosures arising. Normally an assessor would be appointed from a different service area from that which was being investigated. Allocation would be made by the Council’s Monitoring Officer;

·         Page 17: Making a Disclosure: reference to the confidential  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5/18

6/18

Work programme pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To consider the work programme for the Committee for the remainder of the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: The Committee AGREED to:

1.    Approve the work programme as detailed in the agenda; and

2.    Cancel the meeting on 1 May 2019 given the lack of agenda items currently. Should there be business for this meeting, it could be rescheduled.

7/18

Dispensation Applications for Members pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To receive the report of the Director of Law on Members' dispensations for consideration, if any are received.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No requests for personal dispensations were received.

8/18

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

Minutes:

No requests for personal dispensations were received and therefore this item fell.

9/18

Dispensation Applications for Members

To receive the report of the Director of Law on Members' dispensations for consideration, if any are received.

Minutes:

No requests for personal dispensations were received and therefore this item fell.