DECISION NOTICE – RERERRAL FOR INVESTIGATION

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					DECISION NOTICE – REFERRAL FOR INVESTIGATION

Reference MDC 2008/1

Complaint

On 8 September, 2008, the Assessment Sub- Committee of the Standards
Committee of Mansfield District Council considered a complaint from Mr G.
Musgrove concerning the alleged conduct of Councillor M.A. Colley, a
Member of this Council. We have set out below a general summary of the
complaint:-

The complaint relates to the proposed closure of the old surgery on
Chesterfield Road North.

The complainant alleges that the named member spoke to him during a
telephone call which took place in or around November 2007 in an aggressive
manner.

The complainant further alleges that at a public meeting held at the
Community Centre on Stacey Road, Bull Farm,that the named member
interrupted the complainant when he was speaking and again spoke to the
complainant in an aggressive manner and questioned the accuracy of what
the complainant has said in relation to where he lived.

The complainant alleges, that, although the named member was informed he
was wrong by others present at the meeting, he refused to offer an apology as
requested by the complainant.

Decision

In accordance with Section 57A(2) of the Local Government Act, 2000, as
amended, the Assessment Sub-Committee of the Standards Committee
decided to refer the allegation to the Monitoring Officer for investigation.

Potential Breaches of the Code of Conduct Identified

We have identified below the paragraphs of the Code of Conduct which may
apply to the alleged misconduct

Failing to treat others with respect

Bringing an office into disrepute

This decision notice is sent to the person or persons making the allegation,
and the member against whom the allegation is made.
Reasons for Decision

In determining the complaint, consideration was given to the Council’s
approved “assessment criteria” (as set out below) and the Standards
Assessment Sub-Committee concluded that it would be in the public interest
to refer the matter for investigation being satisfied that there was an
exceptional circumstance to warrant an investigation into alleged misconduct
that took place more than six months prior to the complaint.

Terms of Reference

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act, 2007, amends
the Local Government Act, 2000, which now provides for the local
assessment of new complaints that members of relevant authorities may have
breached the Code of Conduct. The Standards Committee (England)
Regulations 2008 relate to the conduct of authority members and the
requirements for dealing with this.

The regulations set out the framework for the operation of a locally based
system for the assessment, referral, and investigation of complaints of
misconduct by members of authorities. They amend and re-enact existing
provisions in both the Relevant Authorities(Standards Committee) Regulations
2001, as amended, and the Local Authorities(Code of Conduct)(Local
Determination) Regulations 2003, as amended.

The assessment criteria for dealing with complaints as approved by the
Standards Committee is as follows:-

i)    Initial Tests

      Before an assessment of a complaint begins, the Assessment Sub
      Committee must be satisfied that the complaint meets the following
      tests.

      (a)    is the complaint about the conduct of a member? The complaint
             must relate to one or more named elected or co-opted members
             of the District or Parish Council covered by the Standards
             Committee.

      (b)    was the named member in office at the time the alleged
             misconduct took place?

      (c)    was the Code of Conduct in force at the time the alleged
             misconduct took place?

      (d)    if the complaint is proven, would there be a breach of Code of
             Conduct which was operating at the time of the alleged
             misconduct? If the complaint fails one or more of these tests, the
             complaint cannot be investigated and no further action will be
             taken.
ii)    Sufficiency of information

       The Assessment Sub-Committee will not normally refer a matter for
       investigation or other action where insufficient information has been
       provided by the complainant to enable the Sub-Committee to decide
       whether there is prima facie evidence of a breach.

iii)   Seriousness of the complaint

       The Assessment Sub-Committee will not normally refer a matter for
       investigation or other action where it appears to be trivial or vexatious
       or where the matter appears to be malicious, politically motivated or tit
       for tat.

iv)    Length of time which has elapsed

       The Assessment Sub-Committee will have regard to the length of time
       which has elapsed since the events the subject of the complaint
       occurred. It will not normally investigate or pursue other action where
       the events took place more than 6 months prior to the complaint being
       submitted other than in exceptional circumstances (for example, where
       the conduct relates to a pattern of behaviour which has recently been
       repeated).

v)     The Assessment Sub-Committee will determine whether the public
       interest would be served by referring the complaint for investigation or
       other action. They may consider that the public interest would not be
       served where a member has died, resigned or is seriously ill. Similarly
       if a member has offered an apology or other remedial action they may
       decide that no further action should be taken.

       If the complaint has already been the subject of an investigation or
       other action relating to the Code of Conduct or the subject of an
       investigation by other regulatory authorities, it is unlikely that it will be
       referred for investigation or other action unless it is evident that the
       public interest will be served by further action being taken.

vi)    Anonymous Complaints

       Anonymous complaints will not normally be referred for investigation or
       some other action unless evidence is submitted to support the
       complaint which indicates a serious or significant matter.

vii)   Confidentiality

       As a matter of fairness and natural justice, a member should usually be
       told who has complained about them – there may be occasions where
       the complainant requests that their identity is withheld, such a request
        should only be granted in circumstances that the Assessment Sub-
        Committee consider to be exceptional.

viii)   Multiple Complaints

        It is possible that complaints about the same or similar issue may be
        received from a number of different complainants. Whenever possible,
        all the complaints will be considered by the same meeting of the
        Assessment Sub-Committee.

        The Assessment Sub-Committee must still reach a decision in respect
        of each individual complaint.

ix)     Withdrawing Complaints

        A complainant may ask to withdraw their complaint before the
        Assessment Sub-Committee has made a decision on whether to
        investigate the complaint or take any further action.

        The Assessment Sub-Committee will have to decide whether to grant
        such a request; the Sub-Committee may consider the following:-

        (a)   does the public interest in taking some action outweigh the
              complainants request to withdraw the complaint?

        (b)   could action such as an investigation be carried out without the
              complainant’s participation?

        (c) Is there a reason why the complainant has asked to withdraw the
            complaint? e.g. Are they being coerced?


Additional Help

If you need additional support in relation to this or future contact with us,
please let us know as soon as possible by contacting the Monitoring Officer.

If you have difficulty reading this notice we can take reasonable adjustments
to assist you, in line with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act,
2000.

We can also help if English is not your first language.

Signed:        D.H. LANDER                            15   September, 2008

David H. Lander
Chairman of the Assessment Sub-Committee

				
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