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Inside the council chamber

Focus on standards across Pembrokeshire County Council

Ffocws ar safonau ar draws Cyngor Sir Penfro

The first annual report examining the work of the Standards Committee of Pembrokeshire County Council has been presented to Full Council this week.

The annual report includes a summary of what has been done to discharge the committee’s functions; reports and recommendations made or referred to the committee by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales and any actions taken following consideration of these and any notices given to the committee by the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

It must also include an assessment by the committee of the extent to which leaders of political groups on the council have complied with their duties to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members of their group.

Standards Committee Chair Corinna Kershaw said: “Having such a large number of unaffiliated members in Pembrokeshire does bring with it certain challenges, which means that we must all work together to embed a culture of constructive, respectful relationships and selfless adherence to the Nolan Principles.

“Several recent reports into failures in local government have cited a lack of appreciation of the Nolan Principles and the requirements of the Code of Conduct as causative factors.

“Since I have been chair of the committee I have noticed that the Councillors who have appeared before us often have not attended Code of Conduct training and this is particularly an issue in respect of Town and Community Councillors.This is why attending training is of critical importance, and why training is mandatory.”

From 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2023 the committee met eight times with matters discussed including Applications for Dispensation from Councillors to speak and vote on matters, Code of Conduct complaint updates, improving standards, Member/Officer Protocol, and national updates.

A Code of Conduct hearing and a pre-hearing was also held in relation to two separate incidents.

The committee is made up of lay members, County and Community Councillors.

A record of complaints is kept by the Monitoring Officer, Rhian Young, including official complaints to the Ombudsman and those that were resolved informally.

In the reporting period a total of 33 complaints are listed.

The majority, 11, were regarding Member behaviour in a meeting, nine were about inappropriate use of social media and five related to interaction with a member of the public.

The requirement for an annual report is specified by the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 and a copy will be provide to all elected members of Pembrokeshire County Council, all Town and Community Councils, the Ombudsman and Audit Wales.