Chapter 7, Section 28 of the Localism Act 2011 placed a duty on the Council to appoint one or more Independent Persons (IP):
· to give the Council views on any allegations it had decided to investigate, before a decision was reached;
· at the discretion of the Council, to give the Council views on any other allegations; and
· at the discretion of a Member, co-opted Member or member of a Parish or Town Council (P&TC), to give the Member views on any allegations relating to the behaviour of that Member.
The report of the Monitoring Officer (MO) detailed the proposed recruitment process for the appointment of the IPs. At present, the Council had three IPs. Two of the IPs terms of office were scheduled to expire on 11 July 2021 and were not renewable as both had served a consecutive 8-year period. Therefore, should the Council wish to retain three IPs it would be necessary to commence a recruitment process in the new year to appoint two IPs to start in July 2021. It was noted that the current process was satisfactory, and Members agreed that the appointment continued to be for a period of 4-years, the role description, personal specification and allowance be unchanged as recommended in the report.
It was proposed that an advert be placed on the Council’s website, highlighted through social media and placed on ‘MyAlerts’ inviting applications with a closing date of Friday 29 January 2021. The vacancy would be notified to all Councillors and P&TCs within the Rother area but would not be available to any employee of the Council or a P&T Councillor, or those who had been so within the last five years. It was proposed to contact the excellent candidates who were unsuccessful at the last interview process, to establish whether they would be interested in reapplying for one of the positions; a streamlined approached would be adopted.
The report recommended that the Interview Panel comprise of the Monitoring Officer, the Chairman of the Audit and Standards Committee (A&SC) and the Chief Executive. The Panel would make a recommendation to the A&SC at the March meeting for onward recommendation to full Council on 17 May 2021.
As the workload was not considered too arduous, the A&SC agreed that the Council only appoint one IP, at this time making a total of two IPs. Should the workload significantly change, then another appointment could be made in the future. It was important that the MO was fully supported; having two IPs in place allowed her to attain more than one perspective and to be able to bounce ideas etc. It was also agreed that equality and diversity principles be considered when recruiting the new IP.
1) the proposed arrangements for the recruitment of one Independent Persons for a term of four years in accordance with equality and diversity principles be approved;
2) an Interview Panel be appointed comprising the Monitoring Officer, the Chairman of the Audit and Standards Committee and the Chief Executive; and
3) the proposed appointee be recommended to the Audit and Standards Committee in March 2021 for onward recommendation to Council on 17 May 2021 to take effect from 12 July 2021.