Council meetings

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Civic Suite Lewisham Town Hall Catford SE6 4RU

Contact: Troy Robinson 0208 3149365 

No. Item


Declaration of interests pdf icon PDF 208 KB


Councillor Mallory declared that he was a season ticket holder at Millwall

Football Club.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 20 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Committee meetings held on the 6 July

2016 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Annual Complaints Report - 2015 16 pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Ralph Wilkinson, Head of Public Services, presented the report which

provided performance information for 2015/16 on complaints dealt with by the

Council and its housing partners at Stages 1 and 2 of the Corporate

Complaints procedure and complaints and enquiries to the Mayor, Councillor

and MPs logged on the Council’s complaints management system during



The report and presentation did not include complaints or enquiries in relation

to adult and children’s social care both of which are reported individually and

publicised according to statutory guidance.


The Independent Adjudicators report and the Local Government Ombudsman

report were also considered


It was explained that the data includes a breakdown by council ward. It was

also explained that this information is presented to Departmental

Management Teams with a feedback on findings and to ensure that

recommendations are implemented.


It was further explained that the current icasework system was not suitable

and officers are currently investigating a solution.


It was explained that there has been a decrease in complaints and enquiries

of some 17%. Whilst enquiries had decreased there had been an increase in

stage 1 and 2 complaints  


On analysing the reasons for complaints, complaints about the highway was

the top issue complained about. In 2015 -16 Highways received more

complaints than usual about drainage but this was triggered by the heavy



It was commented that it was a tribute to officers that the number of enquiries

and complaints has reduced, especially in these times of public services cuts.


Members of the Committee noted that the report was very helpful, useful and



RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Review of Whistleblowing Referrals and Policy pdf icon PDF 453 KB


Kath Nicholson, Head of Law and Monitoring Officer introduced the report and

explained that a fundamental review of the whistleblowing policy was

conducted in October 2015.


Kath Nicholson explained that there has been ten referrals since the last

report considered by the Standards Committee. This demonstrated that

people are aware of the policy and do make referrals under it.


RESOLVED to note the referrals under the Council’s Whistleblowing Policy as

set out in the report and reported to the Committee.


Review of Ethical Arrangements pdf icon PDF 328 KB

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Kath Nicholson, Head of Law and Monitoring Officer presented the report

which had been requested by the Committee to review the ethical

arrangements in Lewisham.


Kath Nicholson also took the opportunity to address various issues raised by

members in relation to declarations of interests.


The Monitoring Officer explained to the Committee the legal definition of a

Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and further explained that a member cannot

take part in a matter where they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. She

further explained “other registerable interests” and explained that “non-

registerable interest” are not definable and it is for members to exercise an

objective test in coming to a decision whether they have one or not; but it will

always be a matter for the individual member concerned.


Kath Nicholson informed the Committee that she had made enquiries of the

ethical arrangements adopted by other London authorities. She reported that

practice varied. Overall the Head of Law’s view is that Lewisham’s ethical

arrangements are fit for purpose and whilst she highlighting some possible

amendments she was not suggesting they be adopted.


There was some discussion in relation to some councillors’ view that on

occasion the advice of the Head of Law is restrictive and can result in limiting

a member’s participation in matters on which they have particular knowledge

and valuable contributions to make.  It was suggested that enquiry be made

into having a smoother dispensation process.


The Monitoring Officer reiterated her role which is to ensure that decisions of

the Council are lawful and resistant to successful legal challenge.


It was suggested that wider discussion with councillors on this issue would be

appropriate. It was also suggested that consideration be given for mandatory

training to councillors on relevant interests and their ability to participate

where such interests exist.


RESOLVED to note the report and that no amendment to the Lewisham

Member Code of Conduct is currently required.



Compliance with Member Code of Conduct 2016 pdf icon PDF 259 KB




Kath Nicholson, Head of Law and Monitoring Officer presented the report and

explained that the report provides information about the extent of compliance

with the Member Code of Conduct.


It was highlighted that since consideration of previous report on compliance in

October 2015 there have been three complaints raised against members.

Some members of the Committee were particularly interested in the reference

to the complaint against Councillor C in relation to comments on Twitter in

2014 and 2016 and also in relation to that councillor’s conduct at a

subsequent meeting.


It was explained that the Monitoring Officer, in accordance with the applicable

procedures and with the assistance of Leading Counsel, reached the

conclusion that the complaint did not reach the initial assessment threshold

for further investigation.


The Monitoring Officer reported Leading Counsel’s opinion to the Committee

and referred to relevant documents to support the factual accuracy of the

comments on Twitter in 2014 and 2016.


There was prolonged discussion about this complaint and the potential

reputational risk to the Council arising from this complaint.


It was confirmed that this complaint had been responded to in accordance

with the relevant procedures and also having sought appropriate advice.


Some members expressed a view that the Committee ought to be doing

something. It was noted that there was no further action to be taken by the

Committee in respect of this complaint.


It was suggested that there was a need for further and mandatory training in

relation to the use of social media by councillors and that the protocols around

the use of social media should be revisited.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


The meeting ended at 10:00pm.