Decision details

Complaint 02/09-10: Councillor Steve Reed

Decision Maker: Standards (Hearings) Sub-Committee

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decision:

Summary of decisions on complaint concerning Councillor Steve Reed

 

Procedural issues

 

The Sub-Committee decided:

 

  • To meet with the press and public present and to publish the Investigating Officer’s report and pre-hearing summary.
  • That the Code of Conduct applied to the matters that were the subject of the complaint.

 

 

Decisions

 

1. Alleged breach of paragraph 3(1) of the Code (treat others with respect):

 

The Sub-Committee concluded that the language used by Councillor Steve Reed on his blog and tweets was not sufficient to breach the threshold for councillors of not treating former Councillor Betty Evans-Jacas with respect.  The Sub-Committee concluded that the views expressed by Councillor Reed were reasonably held opinion.  No breach was found.  Relevant guidance from the Standards Board for England and representations made were considered, including the South Holland District Council case. 

 

2. Alleged breach of paragraph 4 of the Code (disclosure of confidential information):

 

The Sub-Committee concluded that the disclosure of the confidential information on Betty Evans-Jacas’ Council Tax arrears failed the exceptions set out in para. 4(a)(iv) of the Code, namely this was:

 

Not in the public interest.

Not made in good faith 

Not in compliance with the reasonable requirements of the authority.

 

The Sub-Committee concluded that the disclosure did meet the reasonableness test in that it was an accurate disclosure.

 

 

Sanction

 

The Sub-Committee carefully considered the mitigating factors submitted, and other action that has taken place since the complaint was made:

 

  • A written apology has already been given by Councillor Reed.
  • A written protocol on Section 106 has been put in place, and so training is not appropriate

 

The fact that an apology had been issued, and a written protocol including group leaders was now in place obviated the necessity for the sanction that would otherwise have been imposed.

 

The Sub-Committee decided to not impose a sanction, but to ask the Monitoring Officer to write to:

  • All councillors and co-opted members to advise on necessary vigilance on tweets and blogs. 
  • Councillors and officers to remind them on the need for clarification on the nature of information being disclosed, and in particular if it is confidential information and the limited rights for members to disclose such information.
  • All Councillors and co-opted members to remind them to raise with the MO at the earliest opportunity any issues on interpretation of the code they may require.

 

 

Right of Appeal

 

In respect of the found breach of para. 4 of the Code, Councillor Steve Reed has the right of an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England).

 

Report author: Tim Stephens

Publication date: 16/02/2011

Date of decision: 15/02/2011

Decided at meeting: 15/02/2011 - Standards (Hearings) Sub-Committee

Accompanying Documents: