Agenda and draft minutes

Hearing Sub-Committee - Wednesday, 1st March 2017 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room 4, City Hall. View directions

Contact: Graham Watts  (01522) 873439

Items
No. Item

1.

Procedure for the Hearing Sub-Committee pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Minutes:

The Principal Democratic Services Officer outlined the procedure to be followed at the Hearing, as set out in the agenda pack. He highlighted that the case under consideration consisted of two complaints, meaning that both subject members would have the right to address the Sub-Committee and call any witnesses they felt necessary at the relevant stage of the procedure.

 

As a preliminary procedural issue, no declarations of interest or requests for the exclusion of the press or public were received.

 

 

2.

To consider the Monitoring Officer's investigation report pdf icon PDF 360 KB

Reason for Hearing:

Please note that the Hearing will be considering Councillor Lee’s complaint made against Councillor Strengiel regarding his conduct at the meeting of the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee on 22nd November 2016, together with Councillor Strengiel’s subsequent complaint made against Councillor Lee regarding her conduct at the same meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A summary of the case was included in the Investigating Officer’s report. 

 

It was noted that the Council’s Monitoring Officer had received a telephone call from Councillor Karen Lee on 28th November 2016 stating that she wished to make a complaint under the Member Code of Conduct against Councillor Edmund Strengiel with regards to his behaviour at the meeting of the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee on 22nd November 2016. Subsequent emails from Councillor Lee set out why she considered that Councillor Strengiel had breached the Member Code of Conduct, claiming that Councillor Strengiel was “rude, bullying and aggressive”, had accused her of poor chairing and that his behaviour was not ‘courteous or civil’. The correspondence went on to say that Councillor Strengiel made a number of comments at the meeting, which included an invitation to Councillor Bob Bushell to ‘go outside’.

 

Councillor Lee believed that the behaviour of Councillor Strengiel at the meeting of the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee constituted a breach of the Member Code of Conduct.

 

On 24th January 2017 the Monitoring Officer received a Member Code of Conduct complaint from Councillor Strengiel against Councillor Lee, stating that the nature of the complaint related to Councillor Lee’s:

 

  • chairing skills;
  • fairness in chairing the meeting;
  • attempt to embarrass a member in front of external representatives;
  • conduct in politicising a Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Investigating Officer was invited to present her report, during which she provided an outline of the two complaints that had been received. The following points were noted:

 

·         during the process of investigating Councillor Lee’s complaint, a subsequent complaint had been submitted by Councillor Strengiel. It had been concluded by the Monitoring Officer and Independent Person that the issues included as part of the subsequent complaint were covered in the investigation report, so there was no need to conduct further interviews with any officers or members;

·         three officers and five members had been interviewed as part of the investigation, statements from which were appended to the report;

·         following interviews with officers and members as part of the investigation, there was no compelling evidence which described Councillor Strengiel’s behaviour during the meeting of the Scrutiny Committee to substantiate the claim that he was being rude or aggressive. It was the Investigating Officer’s view, therefore, that there was no breach of the Member Code of Conduct by Councillor Strengiel regarding this aspect of the complaint against him whilst the meeting was taking place;

·         in terms of events which took place after the meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, the Investigating Officer felt that the interviews with officers and members had indicated a consistent view that Councillor Strengiel was angry. In addition, Councillor Strengiel had himself described his own behaviour as ‘getting cross’ and that he was sorry he had behaved like that. The Investigating Officer was confident that Councillor Strengiel did say words along the lines of “take you outside” to Councillor Bob Bushell and perceived this to mean that there was a threatening action. This had followed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.