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