Agenda and minutes

West Suffolk Standards Committee - Monday 31 January 2022 5.00 pm

Venue: Conference Chamber West, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds IP33 3YU

Contact: Helen Hardinge: Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Election of Chair for 2021 to 2022


This being the first meeting of the West Suffolk Standards Committee since the Annual Meeting of Council in May 2021, the Monitoring Officer opened the meeting and sought nominations for the Chair of the Committee for 2021 to 2022.


Councillor Margaret Marks nominated Councillor Jim Thorndyke as Chair, which was duly seconded by Councillor Robert Everitt.


There being no other nominations and no objections, it was




That Councillor Jim Thorndyke be elected Chair for 2021 to 2022.


Councillor Thorndyke then took the Chair for the remainder of the meeting.


Election of Vice Chair for 2021 to 2022


aiChThe Chair sought nominations for the election of Vice-Chair of the West Suffolk Standards Committee for 2021 to 2022.


Councillor Robert Everitt nominated Councillor Cliff Waterman as Vice-Chair, which was duly seconded by Councillor Margaret Marks.


There being no other nominations and no objections, it was




That Councillor Cliff Waterman be elected Vice-Chair for 2021 to 2022.


Apologies for absence


No apologies for absence were received.


Under this item, the Democratic Services Officer reported that contrary to that printed on the agenda, Councillor Andy Neal was now appointed as a full member on the Committee, thus filling the vacant seat allocated to the Independent Group. As Councillor Neal had previously been appointed as a substitute, this had resulted in a vacancy for a substitute member for the Independent Group.


Members noted that a vacancy for a substitute member from the Conservative Group also remained on the Committee.


(Councillor Roger Dicker joined the meeting during the consideration of this item at 5.04pm.)



Any Member who is substituting for another member should so indicate, together with the name of the relevant absent member.


No substitutions were declared.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2020 (copy attached.)


Matters arising from the minutes included:


·       That in respect of the fifth paragraph of minute 14. ‘Standards Activity Update (Report number: STC/WS/20/002)’, it was reiterated that the Committee was seeking to retain the present level of monetary value by which gifts and hospitality should be declared as stated in the current Suffolk Local Code of Conduct. Presently, members should declare gifts or hospitality received with an estimated value of at least £25. The new model Code produced by the Local Government Association had indicated that gifts and hospitality received should be declared with an estimated value of at least £50.


·       In respect of the tenth paragraph under this same minute, it was reiterated that if an additional column was added to the data table highlighting those cases where a councillor resigned from office following a complaint, that the reasons for the resignation should also be included as well.


The minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Declarations of interest

Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary or local non pecuniary interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda, no later than when that item is reached and, when appropriate, to leave the meeting prior to discussion and voting on the item.


Members’ declarations of interest are recorded under the item to which the declaration relates.


Public participation

Members of the public who live or work in the district are welcome to speak and may ask one question or make a statement of not more than three minutes duration relating to items to be discussed in Part 1 of the agenda only. If a question is asked and answered within three minutes, the person who asked the question may ask a supplementary question that arises from the reply.


As the meeting is taking place virtually, a person who wishes to speak must register by 9am the last working day before the day of the meeting. This can be done by sending the request to or telephoning 01638 719363.


If a member of the public cannot attend the meeting remotely, they may submit a written question or statement to Democratic Services by midday at the very latest on the day of the meeting and this will be read out on their behalf during the meeting.


There is an overall time limit of 15 minutes for public speaking, which may be extended at the Chair’s discretion.


There were no members of the public in attendance on this occasion.


New Suffolk Model Code of Conduct (Report number: STC/WS/22/001) pdf icon PDF 202 KB

Report No: STC/WS/22/001

Additional documents:


The Committee considered this report, which sought to recommend to Council, adoption of the Local Government Association (LGA) Model Code of Conduct as its new local Code of Conduct for councillors.


The Localism Act 2011 placed a duty on every council to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by councillors and co-opted members of the authority and, in discharging that duty, adopt a code dealing with the conduct that was expected of those members when they were acting in that capacity.  A Suffolk-wide local code of conduct was adopted by the Councils in 2012.


In January 2019, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) published a report following their review of local authority standards.  This review had concluded that a model code of conduct would create consistency across England and reflected the common expectations of the public, regardless of geography or tier.  It would also reduce the potential for confusion amongst dual-hatted or triple-hatted councillors.  The CSPL also considered that matters such as gifts and hospitality, social media use and bullying and harassment had also increased in salience and where, perhaps, not regularly reflected in local authority codes of conduct and a model code would help to ensure that they did so.


The report directed a series of recommendations to the Government and to the local government sector.  A key recommendation was directed to the LGA to create an updated model code of conduct, in consultation with representative bodies of councillors and officers of all tiers of local government.  Consequently, the LGA approved a Model Councillor Code of Conduct in December 2020, which provided a template for councils to adopted in whole and/or with local amendments.


The Code (attached at Appendix A) contained much of the existing Suffolk Local Code of Conduct and provided welcome guidance to explain the rationale for the obligations and how councillors should follow them.  The LGA had also published more extensive guidance that would assist councillors and the public in understanding the Code and what was included.  This guidance was attached at Appendix B.  Moving forward, the LGA had committed to undertake an annual review of the Code to ensure it continued to be fit-for-purpose, incorporating advances in technology, social media and changes in legislation.


The Suffolk Monitoring Officers Group strongly recommended that there continued to be a Suffolk-wide code of conduct to enable clarity and consistency across the county and particularly across the tiers of local government where councillors represented more than one authority.  The district council Monitoring Officer was responsible for investigating breaches of the code of conduct by town and parish councillors across the whole district and the ability to apply a single code to all complaints was desirable.  The Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC) was also supportive of a Suffolk-wide code.


Therefore, the purpose of this report was to outline the key differences in the new model Code, before seeking endorsement of the LGA’s model code of conduct and to resolve to recommend that the Model Code of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.