Our Standards Committee are able to grant a dispensation to members of a Parish or Town Council on a matter with which they would otherwise not be permitted to deal, as a result of personal and prejudicial interests.
The New Standards Committee (Further Provisions) (England) Regulations 2009, came into force from 15 June 2009. These regulations permit our to grant a dispensation to a member of a Parish or Town Council on a matter with which they would otherwise not be permitted to deal, as a result of a personal and prejudicial interest.
Many Parish and Town Councils have adopted the optional provisions in the Code of Conduct that allow members with a personal and prejudicial interest to make representations in relation to the matter that gave rise to the interest. However they are not entitled to vote and have to leave the room. On occasions there would be so many members leaving the room, sometimes in relation to the same interest, the meeting is no longer quorate and the matter cannot be discussed. The Regulations are designed to avoid this happening where possible.
The Regulations specify that dispensations may only be granted if:
- More than half the members of a Parish or Town Council entitled to vote at a meeting are prohibited from doing so because of prejudicial interests; or
- the business of the Parish or Town Council will be impeded because the absence of members as a consequence of prejudicial interests would upset the political balance of the meeting to such an extent as to prejudice the outcome of voting in that meeting.
Each member must submit an application in writing explaining why a dispensation is desirable. Only the member can do this – they can't ask someone else to do it on their behalf. For example, it is not for the parish clerk to do on behalf of a member or group of members.
The Committee will ask itself a number of questions when reaching its decision, including:
- Is the nature of the member's interest such that to allow them to participate would not damage public confidence in the conduct of the authority's business?
For instance, it is unlikely that it would be appropriate to grant a dispensation to a member who has a prejudicial interest arising as a result of an effect on their personal financial position or on that of a relative. The adverse public perception to the personal benefit to the member would probably outweigh any public interest on maintaining the political balance of the committee.
Consequently, the Standards Committee will weigh up:
- The risks and consequences of both granting or refusing an application;
- The extent to which the request could have been avoided;
- Whether other arrangements could be made;
- The affect on public perception and confidence in local governance; and
- The extent of any personal benefit against the public benefit obtained by agreeing to a dispensation.
The Committee can decide the nature of any dispensation it grants. It could decide to allow a member to speak but not vote or to fully participate and vote.
Until such a dispensation is granted a Parish or Town Councillor may not participate in the consideration of the matter before the Parish or Town Council (or any Committee or Sub-Committee).
The will consider the dispensation at the first meeting after receipt. The Committee normally meets every other month, so it is important to send in an application as soon as a potential problem is known. The Standards Committee may convene an extraordinary meeting to consider a dispensation request if it is urgent.
Apply for dispensation
You can apply for dispensation by downloading the application form (below) and returning it to :The Monitoring Officer, Council Offices, St. Peters' Hill, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6PZE-mail: - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively you can apply for dispensation online.
If you have any questions, or require further information, please contact the Monitoring Officer on 01476 406105 or the Deputy Monitoring Officer on 01476 406103.
|[128kb]||Application for Dispensation||Application form for a Councillor to apply for dispensation.|
The documents in this section are in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf). You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files which can be downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.