From its inception this blog often criticised the former Monitoring Officer (Jacqui Colllins) and RMBC’s Standards Committee for the perverse decisions she and it made. The arrival of the Commissioners put the lid on Ms.Collins’ career ambitions with RMBC. In the Casey report RMBC councillors were labelled ‘Not Fit For Purpose’ and one of the people included in that description was Cllr.Dominic Beck (former disgraced Chairman of APC) who later reappeared as Chairman of the Standards Committee. He has also been criticised on here because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he lacks any real world experience and he is politically biased.
It seems justifiable criticisms are contributing to the overhaul of RMBC’s (Double) Standards Committee:
Standards Committee meeting 15th July 2015.
The report outlines suggestions relating to the review of the Standards Committee’s role and Terms of Reference in the light of recent reports of Alexis Jay and Louise Casey and the Government intervention in the Council.
The arrival of the Commissioners has meant that the Standards regime needs to be examined to ensure that it contributes to the improvement of the Council.
Commissioners wish to introduce improvements to ensure healthy democratic leadership and accountability. A fresher more prominent standards committee will contribute to the development of this healthier culture.
The terms of reference of the Standards Committee have not been considered since the introduction of the Localism Act 2011. Since then there has been considerable change within the Council, including the publication of the Jay and Casey reports and the intervention in the Council by the Secretary of State.
Several suggestions for improvement have been made and these include;
a) Changing the name and membership of the Committee.
This may include considering whether to have an independent Chair or Vice Chair, and perhaps updating the name of the Committee to reflect the priorities of the Council, e.g. The Standards and Ethics Committee.
Looking at the Code of Conduct.
The Council’s Code of Conduct is based upon the national code although it does have some differences based on local circumstances. This could be re-examined and adapted to reflect the Council’s priorities.
It is suggested that a working group is formed to carry out this work and report back to the Standards Committee in September.
It is suggested the membership should include the Chair, the Vice Chair, an Independent member, a parish Councillor ,a member of the opposition and an Independent Person.
There is a risk that the standards and ethical heath of the Council could suffer if the procedures in place are not reviewed and if appropriate updated, regularly.
There has been a great deal of publicity about RMBC’s ‘New and Improved’ transparency, openness and democracy which begs the question; Will Cllr.Beck be part of the review panel of the Standards Committee when A) He cannot be neutral and B) There have been at least three complaints against him which were not properly investigated by the former Monitoring Officer ? An independent review of the Standards Committee chaired by a person or persons unconnected with or to RMBC is the only solution if RMBC is to be seen as truly open and democratic and not of the same mindset that was exposed by Louise Casey CB. A council with a culture of bullying,cover ups and shifting the blame ie: Not Fit for Purpose.
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has a duty to promote and practice ethical standards. Not double standards.