Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Buildings, Earle Street, Crewe CW1 2BJ. View directions
Contact: Diane Moulson
Appointment of Chairman
To appoint a Chairman from amongst the elected members on the Sub-Committee
That Councillor L Smetham be appointed Chairman for the meeting.
Declarations of Interest
To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.
No declarations of interest were made.
Report of the Monitoring Officer
The report of the Monitoring Officer provides a summary of the business to be transacted in consideration of complaint number CEC/14-15/MO11.
The Hearing Sub-Committee will normally meet in public. However, the Sub-Committee will be invited to determine whether it is appropriate and in the public interest for the hearing to take place in public as the Subject Member has requested that the hearing be held in private.
In the event the Subject Member’s request is granted, the Sub-Committee will be invited to pass a resolution that the press and public be excluded from the meeting, as set out at Item 4 on the agenda.
It the Sub-Committee declines the Subject Member’s request, the papers listed under agenda Item 5 will be made available to the public at the meeting and will be posted on the Council’s website at the conclusion of the meeting.
The purpose of the hearing was to consider a complaint made against a former member of Cheshire East Council, and to determine –
i) whether the code of conduct had been breached; and
ii) if so, what sanctions, if any to impose.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
The reports relating to the remaining items on the agenda have been withheld from public circulation and deposit pursuant to Section 100(B)(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that the matters may be determined with the press and public excluded.
The Committee may decide that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items pursuant to Section 100(A)4 of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and public interest would not be served in publishing the information.
In accordance with Cheshire East Council’s complaints procedure, meetings of the Hearing Sub Committee are usually held in public. The subject member requested that the meeting be held in private on the grounds that, to date, the process had been conducted in private and they saw no reason for this to change.
The Panel was invited to determine the request.
That the meeting be held in public.
The Sub-Committee is invited to consider the report of the investigating officer and determine what action, if any, to take in respect of the above complaint.
Summary of Complaint
The complainant (Mrs L Butcher) alleged that the subject member (Mr Brian Silvester) had breached Cheshire East Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct by –
i) Calling for a council employee to be sacked during a radio interview on 16 December 2014;
ii) Repeating these views in a party political press release issued by him on 16 December 2014; and
iii) Exacerbating the issue further by publishing a letter sent to him by the Council’s solicitors on 19 December 2014 concerning his remarks.
The paragraph of the Cheshire East Members’ Code of Conduct which the complainant alleged the subject member had breached was paragraph 7 (respect for others) -
sub paragraph a) you must treat others with courtesy. You should engage with colleagues and staff in a manner that underpins mutual respect and courtesy, essential to good local government; and
sub paragraph d) you must not bully any person, including other councillors, officers of the authority or members of the public.
The complaint was initially assessed on 8 January 2015; the Monitoring Officer concluding, having consulted with the Independent Person, that the matter should be referred for external investigation. Having received the subject member’s response on 15 January 2015, she completed her assessment on 20 January 2015, concluding that the matter should be referred for external investigation.
Mr Simon Goacher was appointed by the Monitoring Officer to conduct the investigation and his report was submitted for consideration to the Monitoring Officer on 31 March 2015. Having consulted with the Independent Person, the matter was referred by the Monitoring Officer to the Hearing Sub Committee on 23 June 2015.
Findings of Fact
The subject member confirmed that he agreed with the findings of fact in the Investigating Officer’s report i.e. that he had –
i) Called for the sacking of a council officer in the radio interview on 16 December 2014;
ii) Repeated these views in a party political press release issued by him on 16 December 2014; and
iii) Published a letter sent to him by the Council’s solicitors on 19 December 2014 concerning his remarks.
Simon Goacher (Investigating Officer) presented his report and outlined his findings which indicated a breach of the code of conduct had occurred.
Brian Silvester (the subject member) made representations to the Hearing Sub Committee and called on witness Mr S McQuade.
Additional evidence was submitted by Mr Silvester and was received by the Hearing Sub Committee.
The Hearing Sub Committee asked questions of Mr Goacher, Mr Silvester and Mr McQuade, prior to Mr Goacher and Mr Silvester making their concluding remarks.
In accordance with the Localism Act 2011, the views of the Independent Person were sought and taken into account by the Hearing Sub Committee before reaching its conclusion.
Decision of the Hearing Sub Committee
The Hearing Sub Committee found that the subject member had breached Paragraph 7 (respect for others);
sub paragraph a) you must treat others with courtesy. You should engage with colleagues and ... view the full minutes text for item 5.