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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. was the named member in office at the time the alleged misconduct took place? was the Code of Conduct in force at the time the alleged misconduct took place? 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.

(b)

(c)

(d)

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

(b)

(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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