The Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Engagement introduced the report and referred to the concerns raised by Councillor Bronk earlier in the meeting. The Senior Policy and Programme Manager reported that in general, good progress had been made since the previous quarter as set out in the report.
The Strategic Director and Monitoring Officer responded to the comments made by Councillor Bronk, including highlighting the following points:
(a) Internal resources and capacity had impacted on the delays to responding to code of conduct complaints and there were proposals in place to address this in the future.
(b) A great deal of work had been undertaken on tackling the backlog of complaints in the recent months and it was anticipated all would be dealt with within the next few weeks.
(c) The procedure for dealing with complaints would be examined with a view to streamlining the process.
(d) Plans to introduce the new model code of conduct at the council and also roll out to parish councils to ensure all organisations were using the same code.
(e) In addition, district wide training for parish councillors would be undertaken.
The Monitoring Officer also responded to members’ questions, including on the following:
(f) The sanctions available for breach of the code of conduct.
(g) Whether there was any relationship with the “Debate not Hate” motion agreed by Council on 18 January 2023.
(h) The process for updating the code of conduct and training, including the involvement of members.
The Chairperson suggested that he discuss further with the Monitoring Officer the scope of the work required to update the complaint process and a further report be brought to a future committee meeting.
That the content of the report and the progress against the internal audit management actions be noted and a further report on updating the complaints process be brought to a future meeting.