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More dealings with the Standards Committee

Extract of email sent on 15 July 2019 from Councillor Sue Pearson to the Standards Committee

"The current dispensations policy – which claims to “maintain public confidence” - was demolished three months ago when, in a petition, residents demonstrated that the policy had the opposite effect. The public’s view of an acceptable dispensations policy was recently articulated in four identical requests for general dispensations which the Dispensations Sub-Committee refused without properly considering.

Last week saw a new low in the operation of our standards regime. The Corporation is now failing to comply with its own procedure under the policy. Paragraph 9 provides that the Standards Committee "will not normally refuse a request simply on the basis that a dispensation is not thought to be necessary”. At 4.33 pm on Friday 5 July I received the agenda for a committee meeting on Friday 12 July that contained an item on which I expected to have to vote in the interest of my constituents. By start of business on Monday 8 July, the Standards Committee had received from me a second request for a general dispensation referring specifically to this matter, as a reason for urgency. By the time of the committee meeting on Friday 12 July, I had received neither a grant nor a refusal of my request, although I had actively pursued it in the meantime.

The Standards Chair indicated during the week that “this application is not urgent and will, therefore, be held over to a later meeting of a dispensations sub-committee”. Apart from the statement being wrong - the matter was obviously urgent - it seems that another failure to comply with the Corporation’s own procedure is currently occurring. The policy does not provide that the Dispensations Sub-Committee is only convened to deal with urgent applications, as implied by the Standards Chair’s statement. A justification for having so many members on the Standards Committee is to have enough to convene a Dispensations Sub-Committee at short notice. There is, therefore, no good reason why that sub-committee should not be convened within the next week or two (a week has already passed) to consider properly my outstanding request for a general dispensation. The sub-committee could, at the same time, consider properly the requests for the same general dispensation that three other councillors have resubmitted.

I ask the Standards Chair to arrange a meeting of the sub-committee for this purpose before the end of the month.”

I have been told that my application will now be looked at in September.

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