Agenda and draft minutes

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No. Item



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Apologies were received from Cllr R Carington.


Minutes of the meeting on 18 January 2024 pdf icon PDF 149 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on XX Month 2020, copy attached.

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RESOLVED – That the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2024 be approved as a correct record.


Declarations of Interest

Members to declare any interests.

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Cllr D Goss declared an interest as an employee of the Conservative Party which also included voluntary offices in the Buckinghamshire area. In relation to item 5 he also mentioned that he was a Winslow Town Councillor. Cllr Tony Green declared a personal interest in item 4 as he was a Member of the unparished area of High Wycombe.


The following Members declared a personal interest in Item 5:-

·         Cllr Chhokar as a Member of Gerrards Cross Town Council.

·         Cllr Oliver as a Member of Hazlemere Parish Council

·         Cllr Mordue as a Member of Buckingham Town Council

·         Cllr Gomm as the Ward Member for Great Brickhill


Wycombe Community Governance Review Update

To note the verbal report.


Contact Officer:  Glenn Watson

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The Chairman provided an update on the Wycombe Community Governance Review and commented that the consultation would end on 7 April 2024 at midnight. A Meeting of the CGR Member Working Group and Standards and General Purposes Committee would then consider the next steps.


Community Governance Reviews: Parishes pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To consider the attached report.


Contact Officer:  Mat Bloxham


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As reported to the last Standards and General Purposes Committee meeting on 24 August 2023, the Council had received enquiries from parish councils and the public seeking to make changes to parish electoral arrangements. The Committee agreed that the CGR Working Group, that was established for the Wycombe CGR, should also recommend the draft Terms of Reference and Consultation Plan (as appropriate) for any other parish CGR requests received.


The Standards and General Purposes Committee on 18 January 2024 agreed an approach to considering CGR requests received from the community. To date, five formal requests had been received as follows:-


1) Buckingham Town Council – merging wards

2) electors from Lake End Road (affecting Burnham & Dorney Parishes) – change boundaries

3) Hazlemere Parish Council – increase number of councillors from 12 to 16

4) Longwick cum Ilmer Parish Council – increase number of councillors from 7 to 9

5) Newton Longville Parish Council – increase number of councillors from 8 to 10


The Group were reminded that the outcome of a Community Governance Review must, in law:

(a) reflect the identities and interests of the community in that area, and

(b) be effective and convenient

(c) take into account other arrangements for community representation and engagement


The Statutory Guidance said: “Each area should be considered on its own merits, having regard to its population, geography and the pattern of communities, and therefore the Council was prepared to pay particular attention to existing levels of representation, the broad pattern of existing council sizes.”. The Council should also have regard to the important democratic principle that each person’s vote should be of equal weight so far as possible.


The Standards and General Purposes Committee on 18 January 2024 agreed the following approach to considering CGR requests from the community:

a. Proposals purporting to come from a parish council or councils should be based on a formal resolution of at least one of those councils;

b. Proposals purporting to come from individuals or community groups should demonstrate wider support and that any existing parish councils affected by the proposal have already been consulted;

c. Where a proposal suggests an increase in councillor numbers, a commentary was supplied on how this was justified with regard to the council’s success or otherwise in filling casual vacancies.


The guidance on council size was that a parish or town council must have no fewer than five councillors. There were otherwise no rules to the number of councillors that a parish or town council must or can have although there had been some research undertaken by Aston Business School and the National Association of Local Councils which recommended the number of councillors for varying population sizes.  A five-year population forecast to 2028 had been provided for each of the proposals requesting changes to the overall parish council size (number of councillors).


During discussion the following points were made:-



Annual Review of Member Code of Conduct Complaints pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To consider the attached report.


Contact Officer:  Glenn Watson


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The Committee received the report on the Annual Review of Member Code of Conduct Complaints. The report reviewed the Member Code of Conduct complaints received by Buckinghamshire Council and its parish and town councils in 2023/24. The report showed that 27 complaints were made against Buckinghamshire councillors and 23 against parish/town councillors, with only one breach of the Code found this being at the parish level. The report revealed that the most common alleged breach of the Code was disrespect, followed by alleged decision-making malpractice at the parish level. The majority of complaints came from the public, except for a third of parish/town complaints that came from fellow councillors or employees. In addition, there was some benchmarking information comparing the Council's experience of complaints with previous years and with other unitary authorities in the region. It also outlined the training activities delivered by the Council to promote and maintain good standards of conduct.


Members noted that there was an error in the first column in Annex 4 which should read as follows :-


Member Code of Conduct Complaints: Comparative – Unitary Authorities (numbers of complaints)

Bath and NE Somerset (59 councillors – notionally 0.5 per cllr over 3 years) Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole (76 councillors, 0.9)

Buckinghamshire (147 councillors, 0.3)

Herefordshire (53 councillors, 0.7)

Milton Keynes (57 councillors, 0.5)

Reading (48 councillors, 0.7)

Swindon (57 councillors, 0.2)

West Berkshire (43 councillors, 1.1)

Wiltshire (98 councillors, 0.3)

Wokingham (54 councillors, 0.5)


During discussion the following points were made:-


  • Buckinghamshire Council did not have the responsibility or the authority to intervene in the governance of parish councils, but only to investigate complaints arising from code of conduct breaches. The council could also offer advice and support to parish councils alongside the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Association of Local Councils and other sources. If there were any problems with Parish Councillors new Councillors could be asked to stand for election, freedom of information requests could be made or a code of conduct complaint, which could lead to a Hearings Sub – Committee where Buckinghamshire councillors could apply sanctions.

·       Reference was made to a possible vote of no-confidence in town councillors and what would happen if this occurred. There was no role for this Council in such a circumstance. It would be for the parish/town council itself to determine its own governance. This Council and all the Town and Parish Councils have a responsibility to promote high standards of conduct. As Buckinghamshire Council had a responsibility to investigate complaints it was important to have a degree of independence in any matters of governance or procedural advice to town and parish councils. However, advice could be sought from Buckinghamshire Council on a case by case basis, in more general terms.

·       Reference was made to an email sent to the Monitoring Officer about a sanction relating to a previous complaint and it was agreed that a response should be written to the individual concerned by the Monitoring Officer rather than it being discussed at the Committee.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To note the Work Programme 

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The draft Work Programme was noted.


The 2025 Constitutional Task and Finish Group was meeting on 1 May 2024. This was a cross party working group looking at changes post 2025 following the boundary review. If any Members had any suggested changes for 2025 onwards they should notify their Group Leader. Members noted that there was also a current Constitutional Working Group which could authorise the Monitoring Officer to make minor changes to the current Constitution. Any major changes would need to be reported through this Committee and the Audit and Governance Committee. The Constitutional Working Group had met in February 2024 where the majority of the updates for the Constitution had been approved and version 4 of the Constitution incorporating those updates would be published shortly.


The Chairman thanked the Committee for all their hard work this year particularly as it had been a busy year with the electoral review and work on the community governance reviews. He also paid tribute to the work of Nick Graham Service Director of Legal and Democratic Services who had left the Council and had contributed greatly to the work of the Council.



Date of Next Meeting

 11 July 2024 (tbc)

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11 July 2024 (subject to agreement at Full Council in May). [Post Meeting Note: A meeting of the Standards and General Purposes Committee will be held on Thursday 13 June 2024 at 1pm].