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Pleased excuse this separate thread but I am rewriting our declaration of interests and dispensation policy and need to get the “declaration at meetings” bit clear in my head.  I  understand the registration of interests process whereby Councillors must declare pecuniary interests (by law) and other interests at the discretion of the Council . So having declared these interests to the Monitoring Officer and had details posted on the web site , the question I have is how does the PC then apply this information to its agendas? Is there an absolute  need for Councillors themselves to re declare their interests at each meeting or is it for Chairman to apply the “relevant restrictions” on  each agenda item utilising the ROI information? .  Historically we have asked for Councillors themselves to read the agenda and nominate “affected items”  and this usually ends up with a wasted 10 mins with the Chairman going over the rules for everyone .  My point is that there does not seem to be any stated requirement for Cllrs to do anything at meetings having once declared their interests via the ROI form ?  So is the onus on the Councillor or the Chair ? The exception would be additional personal interests like a planning application for a neighbour’s house.  Would be interested to hear others interpretation of the rules/guidelines and considered  “best practice”
by (4.7k points)
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Whilst it probably depends upon which version of the code of conduct you have adopted as a council, the version my council has adopted makes it absolutely clear that as well as completed the declaration of financial interests form which is then lodged with the monitoring officer, each councillor has a duty to declare financial and others interests at meetings at which a matter is to be discussed to which that interest applies.  It is usually done at the start of the meeting but can be done at the point where the councillor realises that the discussion is moving into the subject area in which he or she has a disclosable interest.
When you think about it, it make sense to do so as few members of the public attending your meeting would have bothered to read the DOI on the website but have a right to know if the councillor's view or decision might be affected by his or her interest in the subject matter.  So, it is a standard first item on agendas for apologies for absence, declarations of interest and requests for dispensation.  It certainly doesn't take us ten minutes (ten seconds more like) and given we're all adults, we don't need or expect anyone to remind us of the rules.
It is absolutely the responsibility of the councillor, not the chair, to make such a declaration and to act in accordance with that declaration (i.e. to leave the room if appropriate and not to take part in any vote on the matter) there are certainly no "sanctions" that a council can or is able to apply and any failure on the part of a councillor to make such a declaration must be notified to the monitoring officer.
by (18.5k points)
0 votes

We have this added on to our agendas so it falls just after apologies . I found it on another Parish Council agendas .

Members are required to declare any personal or prejudicial interests they know they may.

have in items of business on the meeting’s agenda. They are reminded that they will need to

repeat their declaration at the appropriate point in the meeting and leave the room if the

interest is a prejudicial one. Unforeseen interests must be declared similarly at the

appropriate time. Members have dispensation to discuss and vote in respect of matters.

relating to the Precept.

Members are required to declare any personal or prejudicial interests they know they may.

have in items of business on the meeting’s agenda. They are reminded that they will need to

repeat their declaration at the appropriate point in the meeting and leave the room if the

interest is a prejudicial one. Unforeseen interests must be declared similarly at the

appropriate time. Members have dispensation to discuss and vote in respect of matters.

relating to the Precept.

by (2.9k points)
Our Monitoring Officer advises that there is no legal requirement to declare interests at meetings i.e. it is a matter of preferred PC policy
As I have said, this is totally contrary to every other piece of advice or guidance I have ever seen although I acknowledge that the actual wording of the Localism Act does not refer to a declaration at the start of the meeting it does require the member to take appropriate steps (leaving the meeting, notifying the monitoring officer if no prior disclosure is made, not voting etc.) in connection with the actual meeting.  If the council's standing orders and/or adopted code of conduct do not require a declaration at a meeting then whilst that might technically be in line with those documents, does this actually contribute to openess and transparency that is the rationale for the code in the first place?
I’m not picking a fight here - just offering up a “so what.”

So what if a council’s SOs require this or that?

A Cllr is not elected by, nor answerable to, the council.
If the legislation is ambiguous, unclear or in any way open to interpretation any Cllr can simply say “bite me.”  And there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.
I’ll happily agree that openness and transparency are fundamental keystones of a PC but it’s simply not possible to impose those desirable attributes upon those that may not see things that way.
It strikes me that a lot of Cllrs simply don’t understand the difference between DPIs and non disclosable interests
Don't disagree with anything you say RAG .  All I seek is a clear and unambiguous policy which conforms with the relevant legislation.  As an old boss used to say "talk to me in words I can understand". The real job of a Councillor is making decisions and if I can help reduce the burden what I see as "peripheral admin" well the sooner the better. Others may of course have a different view.
The issue with "interests" is that different people will have different interpretations.

I can't tell you whiter you have an interest or not - only you can decide for yourself.

Some "interests" must be disclosed - they are the ones on the DPI form that must be lodged with the MO.  Most always after that, it simply falls to the individual to decide if they wish to declare and thereafter abide by any SOs restrictions.

A chair, a clerk or another Cllr, or any one for that matter, cannot tell a Cllr that they have or must declare an interest.  They must do it them self.

The only thing that can be done is the known facts may be reported after the event eg:

Cllr X lives at 123, Acacia Drive which is NOT listed on their DPI form - MO forms a judgement (and probably just tells them to put their home address on the DPI form)

Who can actually properly determine if a Cllr has a non disclosable interest apart from them self?

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