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            AND SOLICITORS
                                SOUTHERN BRANCH

        Honorary Secretary: STEPHEN P. TAYLOR, MA (Oxon), Borough Solicitor,
        Swindon Borough Council, Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon, SN1 2JH
       Telephone: 01793 463012 Fax: 01793 463035 DX: 133055 Swindon 16

2nd March 2009

Dear Colleague

ACSeS Southern Branch Meeting – Friday, 6th March 2009

I enclose the agenda for the meeting to be held at 10.30 a.m on Friday 6th March at
the Council Offices, Swindon. The link
councilbuildings.htm will provide you with directions to the Council offices. The
Spring Gardens car park is within walking distance of the Council Offices.

The speakers for the meeting will be Gareth Edwards of Veale Wasbrough who will
give a presentation on the impact of the new dismissal and grievance provisions on
existing employment policies and procedures, including redundancy entitled “Is
Flexibility the way forward?”.

Please feel free to bring other colleagues from your Authority with you. In any event,
as a gentle reminder, if you are unable to attend the meeting please arrange to send
a substitute, as the Branch has found it very useful for as many authorities to be
represented as possible. In particular, it is important that all members of the Call-Off
Consortium be represented as that is a standing item on the agenda.

After the meeting, lunch has been arranged at Rudi’s Wine Bar which is within
walking distance of the Council offices. Please telephone Jean Goodall on 01793
463013 or, alternatively, email to confirm your attendance
at the meeting and, if you are staying to lunch, with your choice from the menu
attached by noon on Wednesday 4th March.

I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Best wishes

Stephen P Taylor
Honorary Secretary
                    SOUTHERN BRANCH

                    Meeting to be held at Swindon
                at 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 6th March 2009

1. Apologies

2. Is Flexibility the way forward?
   A presentation by Gareth Edwards, a Partner in Veale Wasbrough, on
   the impact of the new dismissal and grievance provisions on existing
   employment policies and procedures, including redundancy.

3. Minutes
   To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 5th December 2008.

4. Matters Arising
   To consider matters arising from the minutes not appearing elsewhere
   on the agenda.

5. Current Issues
   Branch Members are invited to up-date each other on action being
   taken or progress made in relation to the following:

        (i)       Call-off Contract for Legal Services (standing item) – to
                  receive a verbal report from Susan Tovey (Test Valley)
        (ii)      Benchmarking – Jo Gabell (East Hampshire DC) to report
                  on progress made in this matter.
        (iii)     Internal charging for legal services - what is included in the
                  recharge as core business and what is charged extra to
                  clients or projects.
        (iv)      Update from authorities who have revised their executive
                  arrangements under LGPIH Act 2007.
        (v)       Monitoring Officer matters – to consider any Monitoring
                  Officer matters that any member wishes to raise.

6. ACSeS Council
   To note the attached summary of the council meeting held on 23rd
   January 2009.

7. Gossip Column
   Please come prepared to report on any interesting cases (legal
   planning or administrative) or corporate issues that you have been
   involved in recently, if time permits.
8. CPD Hours
   To decide on the number of CPD hours accrued from the meeting in
   accordance with the Law Society guidelines.

9. Dates of Future Meetings
   To note the following dates of meetings in 2009, and decide on any
   particular topics to be discussed:

         Friday, 26th June 2009            -     Bournemouth
         Friday, 1st September 2009        -     Fareham
         Friday, 4th December 2008         -     Basingstoke

Stephen P Taylor
Honorary Secretary
March 2009
                     SOUTHERN BRANCH

           Minutes of meeting held at Council Offices, Basingstoke
                       on Friday, 5th December 2008

Present:       Gina Bailey (Chair)      Fareham Borough Council
               George White             Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council
               Liz Howlett              Cherwell District Council
               Keith Mallett            East Dorset District Council
               Rod Hursthouse           Hart District Council
               Davina Fiore             Isle of Wight Council
               Stuart Caundle           North Dorset District Council
               Tim Martin               Poole Borough Council
               Michael Lawther          Portsmouth City Council
               Karen Limmer             Rushmoor Borough Council
               Ian Price                South Oxfordshire District Council
               Stephen Taylor           Swindon Borough Council
               Susan Tovey              Test Valley Borough Council
               Ian Gibbons              Wiltshire County Council
               Howard Bone              Winchester City Council
               Colin Lawley             Wokingham District Council
               David Dongray            Wycombe District Council
               Janet Relfe              Past Services
               Meic Sullivan-Gould      Past Services

Apologies: Stephen Gerrard, Sharon Wyatt, David Holling, Melanie
Earnshaw, Stephen Quayle, Jo Gabell, Ian Locke, Richard Ivory, Keith
Strickland, Margaret Reed, Felix Hetherington, Barbara Wright, Alex Jack,
Susanne Nelson-Wehrmeyer, Joy Postings, Tom Van der Hoven, Joanna
Swift, Philip McCourt

Minute 1675 – Presentation: Christmas Stories

Paul Hoey (Director of Strategy and Guidance, Standards Board for England)
was welcomed to the meeting. He gave an update on current Standards

So far as ‘monitoring data’ was concerned, there was 6 months data to draw
on. As a snapshot, the average membership of Standards Committees
totaled 10 people. The largest membership was 20. There was an average
of 4 independent members and 3 parish representatives.

So far as case handling was concerned, there had been 1,217 complaints
compared with 1,497 for the same period in the previous year. Authorities
had received an average 2.5 complaints since May. About 200 authorities
have received no complaints. No action had been taken in relation to around
50% of complaints. The Standards Board used to reject around 75%, but it
had been expected that a higher proportion would be referred for further
action as a result of the local filtering process, initially at least. The Standards
Board would analyse the data supplied by Monitoring Officers with a view to
identify ‘hot spots’ to focus their resources on, in terms of advice and training.

Regional information for the South West was supplied by Paul, which was
most interesting and informative. A summary is attached to these minutes for

Paul was thanked for his excellent presentation, which was very well received
by the Branch.

Minute 1676 – Presentation: A Tale of Two Districts
George White (Basingstoke & Deane) and Rod Hursthouse (Hart) gave a
presentation on how the provision of Legal Services to Hart by Basingstoke &
Deane was working. The slides, which set out why the arrangements had
been entered into and the various issues that had subsequently arisen,
together with the relevant officer report in September 2007 seeking member
approval to the proposal, had previously been circulated with the agenda for
the meeting.

The first year having been completed, both were happy as it had been
adjudged a success. More work had been generated than expected which
had led to some budgetary issues but that was being resolved.

Both George and Rod were thanked for their presentation, which was greatly

Minute 1677
The minutes of the meeting held on 19th September at Newbury were
accepted as a true record of the meeting.

Minute 1678 – Matters Arising
(i)    Minute 1660(iii) – Model Publication Scheme
In the absence of Phil McCourt (Milton Keynes), it was agreed that this item
be deferred to the next meeting.

(ii)   Minute 1668(ii) – Benchmarking/Legal Services Performance Indicators
In the absence of Jo Gabell (East Hampshire) it was agreed that this item be
deferred to the next meeting.

Minute 1679 – Current Issues
(i)   Call-off Contract for Legal Services
         Susan Tovey (Test Valley) gave a brief update. The ACSeS
         Consortium Call-Off Group (CCG) which she chairs had agreed to
         meet before future ACSeS branch meetings if at all possible. There
         had been a meeting earlier that day and it had been agreed to
         recommend to the Branch that
          Agreement be sought for the Contract to be extended for 1 year
             from 1st September 2009, with the re-tendering process to be
              commenced in January 2010 with a view to a new call-off
              contract being in place on 1st September 2010;
             In relation to ‘soft benefits’ such as training and knowledge
              sharing, Susan Tovey be asked to consider how to access these
              under the call-off contract and how the needs of branch
              members can be best identified and addressed, and Tim Martin
              (Poole) be asked to contact other Consortia to see how they
              managed that issue;
             Evidencing VFM and savings under the call-off contract be
              pursued and that the Branch Secretary progress this
             A satisfaction survey be instigated and that the Branch
              Secretary ask the Panel Members to progress this
             Consideration be given to setting up a call-off contract with
              Counsel’s chambers.

          The Branch Secretary circulated a paper setting out the spend
          under the various panel headings over the last 2 years which
          amounted to a total of £1.45M.

          It was agreed that the report be welcomed. The Branch endorsed
          the extension of the Call-Off Contract for a further year, and agreed
          that CCG be asked to progress a call-off contract with Counsel’s

(ii)   Community Empowerment and the ‘Duty to Involve’ under s138 of the
       LGPIH Act 2007 and the Duty to have regard to the need to eliminate
       unlawful discrimination
       The branch noted and welcomed the comments from David Dongray
       (Wycombe). It was agreed that local authorities would need to put
       strategies in place to address these issues to include such things as
       impact assessments.

Minute 1680 - Monitoring Officer matters
Local Filtering
The cost of local filtering was an issue raised as parish councils are not
financially accountable for the cost of complaints as this cost is borne by
district councils. The recent advice issued by Peter Keith Lucas (Bevan
Brittan), which set out his view that there needed to be separate membership
of Assessment, Review and Hearing Panels was noted but not all branch
members agreed with him.

Minute 1681 - ACSeS Council
(i)   The summary of the Council meeting held on 3rd October 2008 was
(ii)  The election of Susan Tovey (Test Valley) as 2nd Vice President of
      ACSeS, and Phil McCourt as 3rd Vice President of ACSeS was
      welcomed and congratulations were extended to them

Minute 1682 – CPD Hours
It was agreed that 2 hours CPD be credited for attendance at the meeting.
Minute 1683 – Dates of Future Meetings
It was noted that the next meeting would take place on Friday, 6th March 2009
at Swindon and further meetings for 2009 would be held as follows:-

      Friday 26th June 2009             -     Bournemouth (Presidential visit)
      Friday 18th September 2009        -     Fareham (Annual meeting)
      Friday 4th December 2009          -     Basingstoke (Christmas meeting)

Stephen P Taylor
Honorary Secretary
December 2008

Council met at the Mountbatten Hotel Covent Garden on 23 January 2009 for
for its normal quarterly meeting with Andrew Frosdick in the Chair as
President. 24 members attended.

Council Vacancies
2 vacancies from the AGM appointments were made. Deborah Collins is Portfolio Officer for Ethical
Governance and Ian Marshall is the ACSeS

Strategy and Business Plan
The Vision and Strategy for 2009-14 and the Business Plan for 2009-12 were
agreed. These are now on the website in Public Documents – Company

Articles for Publication
Articles still required – approximately 500 words and targeted at CXs and key
stakeholders in local government. Send to

Committee on Standards in Public Life
Considered a consultation on how well governance arrangements for local
government reflected the 7 Principles of Public Life. To enable an ACSeS
overall response send comments as follows:
Openness and Accountability and generally to
Elected Mayor Issues to
4th Option Authority Issues to

Local Democracy Bill – Scrutiny Officer Provisions
Considered provisions which would require authorities to designate a Scrutiny
Officer who (except in Shire Districts) could not be the Monitoring Officer. A
meeting is being arranged to discuss further. Views to Tony Kilner or if after 1

Appointments of Liaison Representatives on Outside Bodies
Copy enclosed with these notes.

Association of Democratic Services Officers
Council noted proposals to establish this association and wished to work with
them. The Association seemed to be aimed at junior democratic services
officers. LGG Ltd have been asked to take further the development of
qualifications and training requirements for Democratic Services Officers.

Practising Certificate Fees
Discussions on attempts to get these reduced for local government lawyers
are continuing. Mirza Ahmad is meeting the Law Society President shortly.

Accounts and Audit Regulations – Consultation
Suggested that officers’ salaries over £50,000 be disclosed in more detail
possibly including specific names. The ACSeS response to the consultation is

Law Society Consultation – Chief Legal Officers
A consultation had been received from the Law Society on the need for local
authorities to appoint a Chief Legal Officer.
There was agreement that the Monitoring Officer role should be carried out by
the most senior lawyer at the authority and that there should be parity with the
S151 Officer. It was suggested that ACSeS should press the Standards Board
to proceed on the requirements for qualifications and training for monitoring
officers and that statutory guidance be issued that monitoring officers should
be members of the senior management team.
A meeting will be arranged for the President and 2/3 other Council members
with the Law Society to discuss further.

Cost of Local Assessment
Concern was expressed at the cost of reviews which required a meeting of 3
Members to be arranged for each review but no monies were provided to pay
the cost.

Monitoring Officer Conferences – Delegate Numbers
These were 70 for the London event and 40 for Manchester. Branches were
requested to encourage further attendance particularly for the Manchester

Service Agreement with LGG Ltd.
The arrangements were agreed. The Solicitor and President will finalise the
contract. LGG Ltd will take over from the Executive Officer on 1 February

Finance Update April to December 2008
There was an excess of general expenditure over income of £6,903 but the
Conference had made a provisional surplus of £24,892.

Conference Update
The Conference was successful. The delegate comments had been excellent.
Charges for 2009 were being retained at the 2008 level.

Ethical Governance
Responses were being produced to consultation papers on local authority
publicity (12 March)and on local authority petitions (13 March). Comments to
Information Management
The Information Commissioner will be issuing guidance on the interaction
between S15 and Freedom of information – an issue that has been raised by
ACSeS. Comments on the draft guidance have been sent.
The Home Office will shortly be issuing a consultation on RIPA. One issue will
be the level of authorisation for use of powers and the need to avoid frivolous
use. The Monitoring Officer would be an appropriate level rather than the
Chief Executive.
ICO will be checking local authority publication schemes from end March.
Ministry of Justice are conducting a review of data sharing practice.

Regulatory Governance
The LGA Probity in Planning document was due to be published as a draft in
the next couple of weeks.
A meeting to commence work on revisions to the Parish Council Toolkit would
take place in a couple of weeks.

Welsh Authorities
A subgroup was preparing a response on the Coroners Bill and this would be
passed on to colleagues.

New Directors would be appointed at the forthcoming weekend school.

Performance Indicators
An online system has been developed on the website. This will be
demonstrated at the next Council meeting before being opened up for use by

Next Meeting of Council
11.00am on 24 April 2009 at Camden Town Hall, Committee Room 1.

IL 27/01/09
                                   South Region briefing – Quarterly returns

Authorities included in this briefing:

 Authority                                                   Authority Type     County
 Bracknell Forest Borough Council                            Unitary            Berkshire
 Reading Borough Council                                     Unitary            Berkshire
 Royal Berkshire Fire Authority                              Fire Authority     Berkshire
 Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead                     Unitary            Berkshire
 Slough Borough Council                                      Unitary            Berkshire
 West Berkshire Council                                      Unitary            Berkshire
 Wokingham Borough Council                                   Unitary            Berkshire
 Aylesbury Vale District Council                             District Council   Buckinghamshire
 Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue Service   Fire Authority     Buckinghamshire
 Buckinghamshire County Council                              County Council     Buckinghamshire
 Chiltern District Council                                   District Council   Buckinghamshire
 Milton Keynes Council                                       Unitary            Buckinghamshire
 South Bucks District Council                                District Council   Buckinghamshire
 Wycombe District Council                                    District Council   Buckinghamshire
 Borough of Poole                                            Unitary            Dorset
 Bournemouth Borough Council                                 Unitary            Dorset
 Christchurch Borough Council                                District Council   Dorset
 Dorset County Council                                       County Council     Dorset
 Dorset Fire Authority                                       Fire Authority     Dorset
 Dorset Police Authority                                     Police Authority   Dorset
 East Dorset District Council                                District Council   Dorset
 North Dorset District Council                               District Council   Dorset
 Purbeck District Council                                    District Council   Dorset
 West Dorset District Council                                District Council   Dorset
 Weymouth & Portland Borough Council                         District Council   Dorset
 Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council                       District Council   Hampshire
 East Hampshire District Council                             District Council   Hampshire
 Eastleigh Borough Council                                   District Council   Hampshire
 Fareham Borough Council                                     District Council   Hampshire
 Gosport Borough Council                                     District Council   Hampshire
 Hampshire County Council                                    County Council     Hampshire
 Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority                         Fire Authority     Hampshire
 Hampshire Police Authority                                  Police Authority   Hampshire
 Hart District Council                                       District Council   Hampshire
 Havant Borough Council                                      District Council   Hampshire
 New Forest District Council                                 District Council   Hampshire
                                                             National Park
 New Forest National Park Authority                          Authority          Hampshire
 Portsmouth City Council                                     Unitary            Hampshire
 Rushmoor Borough Council                                    District Council   Hampshire
 Southampton City Council                                    Unitary            Hampshire
 Test Valley Borough Council                                 District Council   Hampshire
 Winchester City Council                                     District Council   Hampshire
 Isle of Wight Council                                       Unitary            Isle of Wight
 Cherwell District Council                                   District Council   Oxfordshire
 Oxford City Council                                         District Council   Oxfordshire
 Oxfordshire County Council                                  County Council     Oxfordshire
 South Oxfordshire District Council                                                 District Council         Oxfordshire
 Vale of White Horse District Council                                               District Council         Oxfordshire
 West Oxfordshire District Council                                                  District Council         Oxfordshire
 Kennet District Council                                                            District Council         Wiltshire
 North Wiltshire District Council                                                   District Council         Wiltshire
 Salisbury District Council                                                         District Council         Wiltshire
 Swindon Borough Council                                                            Unitary                  Wiltshire
 West Wiltshire District Council                                                    District Council         Wiltshire
 Wiltshire and Swindon Fire Authority                                               Fire Authority           Wiltshire
 Wiltshire County Council                                                           County Council           Wiltshire
 Wiltshire Police Authority                                                         Police Authority         Wiltshire
 Thames Valley Police Authority                                                     Police Authority

South region counties - number of cases received since 8 May

            Berkshire                       11

   Buckinghamshire                      9

               Dorset                                                                                  44

           Hampshire                                                                    34

         Isle of Wight                           15

         Oxfordshire                                                                       36

             Wiltshire                               16

                         0            10                  20                   30               40           50

Authorities in the South Region with 4 or more cases

                           National average                    4

       Bournemouth Borough Council                             4

            Eastleigh Borough Council                              5

              Gosport Borough Council                                                           15

                   Isle of Wight Council                                                        15

           New Forest District Council                                 6

      North Wiltshire District Council                                 6

                     Oxford City Council                       4

               Slough Borough Council                              5

   South Oxfordshire District Council                                                                                       30

             Swindon Borough Council                                       7

         West Dorset District Council                                                                                            32

                                                 0             5                10            15        20          25     30         35
Average number of days between receipt and initial referral decision (authorities
with 4 or more cases)
                   National average                                    20

     Bournemouth Borough Council                                      19

          Eastleigh Borough Council                             15

           Gosport Borough Council                               16

               Isle of Wight Council              6

         New Forest District Council                   10

     North Wiltshire District Council                            16

                 Oxford City Council                                  19

            Slough Borough Council                                                                          53

  South Oxfordshire District Council                        14

          Swindon Borough Council                           13

        West Dorset District Council                       12

                                        0             10             20         30         40          50        60

Note: Slough Borough Council’s figure is skewed due to one case that took 102 days

Referral decisions - South authorities vs. National


             49% 50%

  40%                                                            36%

                                                                          29%                               South


  10%                              8%                                                   7%

             Not referred      Referred to MO for Referred to MO for                    Referred to
                                   alternative       investigation                   Standards Board

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