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Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Shirley Cooke
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declaration of interest from a Member or Officer regarding any item of business.
No declaration of interest was received.
To consider applications for dispensation.
The Solicitor (Corporate Governance) reported that a collective application for dispensation was made by the 29 members of the County Council in respect of what they consider to be a personal and prejudicial interest.
The Solicitor (Corporate Governance) stated that Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 and the County Council’s Constitution notes that if a member fails to attend a relevant meeting of the Council for a period of 6 consecutive months, then the “six month rule” applies; i.e. the member ceases to be an elected member, and a by-election is triggered. It was noted that disqualification may be avoided if a member asks for the absence to be approved by full Council before the expiry of the 6 month period.
The Solicitor (Corporate Governance) reported that due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Council has not been able to carry out “business as usual”. She referred to The Coronavirus Act 2020 and Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Meetings) (Wales) Regulations 2020, which reduces the legal obligations on local authorities, and permits meetings by remote attendance. It was noted that the Council has reviewed its Committee timetable, and there are fewer formal meetings currently being held than during the pre-Coronavirus period, and so fewer opportunities for members to be able to comply with the requirements of the “six month rule”.
It was noted that a report will be presented to full Council on 8 September 2020, requesting that the Council approves that the Coronavirus pandemic is a reason for non-attendance by all of IOACC’s members at meetings, and that all members are given protection that their non-attendance, by virtue of the Coronavirus outbreak, will not result in an automatic dismissal on their part for a further period of six months from when each individual members’ initial six month period expires.
Reference was made to Regulation 10 of The Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Meetings) (Wales) Regulations 2020, that for the purpose of calculating the six months, the period between the day when the Regulations came into force (22 April 2020), and the date of a meeting to which the member had been invited to attend in his role as an elected member is to be disregarded. It was noted that the clock is paused between 22 April and the first meeting to which a member is invited to attend; however, it does not restart.
The Solicitor (Corporate Governance) brought the Guidance (Enclosure 4) to the Panel’s attention.
The Solicitor (Corporate Governance) briefed the Panel on personal and prejudicial interests, as referred to in the Members’ Code of Conduct (Enclosure 1). Only if they considered that the members have a personal and prejudicial interest within the meaning of the Code should they then consider the granting of a dispensation.
If a dispensation was required (due to the Panel positively finding that the members have a prejudicial interest), the Solicitor (Corporate Governance) advised the Panel to refer to the statutory grounds for granting dispensations (the grounds included Enclosure 2, and the elected members having ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
The Chair, on behalf of the Panel thanked all those present, Council staff and members, for their diligence in adapting to change during these challenging times. He thanked the Chief Executive and Council Leader for the manner in which they have been conducting their business over recent months.