Presentation on theme: "The role of the Parish Clerk Local Determination of Complaints."— Presentation transcript:
The role of the Parish Clerk Local Determination of Complaints
Course Objectives The process Differences to previous process Procedures followed at NWLDC The Monitoring Officer’s role Implications of a complaint The Parish/Town Clerk’s role
The Process Complaint received in writing by the Monitoring Officer (MO) Parish Clerk will be contacted during process to ask for information or give notification of outcome of a sub-committee Initial Assessment Sub-Committee is convened to decide if action is to be taken or not. 4 decisions available: –Decide not enough information to make a decision –Refer to MO for investigation or other action –Refer to Standards for England (SE) –No action to be taken Complainant can ask for a review of the initial assessment – separate Review Sub-Committee with new members
The Process Investigations can be carried out by the MO or their appointed Investigator A report is prepared for presentation to the Consideration Sub-Committee 3 findings can be made –Accept the Investigator’s findings of no failure –Refer the matter for consideration at a hearing –Refer the matter to the Adjudication Panel for determination
The Process Pre-Hearing process: –At this point the Parish/Town Council will be notified of the matter and given the time, date and place for the hearing Hearings Sub-Committee can make the following decisions: –No breach of the Code –Breach of the Code, no further action –Breach of the Code, sanctions to be applied
What’s Different? Complaints previously assessed by the SE – handled on average 295 complaints a month and referred 1 in 7 to local authorities for investigation SE now has a regulatory role provides advice, support and guidance and also monitors performance SE will still investigate complaints that are considered too serious or complex for the MO to handle locally.
Procedures at NWLDC Regulations SE Prescribed format Decision Making Chart Policies and Procedures Booklet Exercise What decision would you come to?
Role of the Monitoring Officer Advisor to the Standards Committee To administer the Local Determination of Complaints Scheme To ensure that decisions of the authority are taken lawfully and to report to Council any that are not Oversee the introduction and operation of the Code of Conduct Keep and maintain the Register of Members Interests and the Register of Gifts and Hospitality
Implications of a Complaint Processing a complaint is very costly No additional funding Typical investigations costs £7000 if using an external investigator In-house investigator can spend over 100 hours up until the hearing Takes between hours of MO time Actual hearing plus time of Committee Clerk = an additional 10 hours Each complaint – possibly 4 Sub-Committee meetings So 140 hours in total – per complaint!
The role of the Parish/Town Clerk Advising your Councillors on the Code of Conduct – MO support is available if you are unsure Acting as the ‘gate-keeper’ – all member enquiries to the MO should come through you. Mediation – try to avoid complaints –Real benefits to your community and council Councillors are able to put their differences aside and work together to the benefit of the parish Reputation of parish council remains intact and public confidence retained Officer time better employed dealing with front line issues – eg prosecuting for ‘enviro-crime’ Avoid unnecessary cost to the public purse
The role of the Parish/Town Clerk When notified about a complaint –you must make sure that you do not discuss/disclose any confidential information –provide any requested information to the investigator promptly Encourage your Councillors to attend training courses on the Code, Standards and Ethics