Scottish Borders Council

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Headquarters, Newtown St Boswells, Melrose, TD6 0SA

Contact: Fiona Walling  Tel: 01835 826504 Email:

No. Item


Minute pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Minutes of 7 December 2017 and of cancelled meeting on 12 December 2018 for noting.  (Copies attached).

Additional documents:


There had been circulated copies of the Minute of the meeting held on 7 December 2017 and adjourned meeting on 12 December 2018.



APPROVED the Minutes.


The Monitoring Officer and Service Director Regulatory Services, Mr Brian Frater gave an update on the decisions agreed at the meeting held on 7 December 2017.  Members were updating regularly their declaration of interest register and were submitting their monthly hospitality returns.  Members had requested a procedure to be developed for Councillors for dealing with vexatious complainers.  The Monitoring Officer explained that a Vexatious Complainants Group was already set up for Officers chaired by the Service Director Customer and Communities.  He recommended that Councillors should adopt the same procedure and report to this group if they had any constituent complainers who they considered were becoming vexatious.  It was agreed that this was a simple solution whilst recognising that this was only likely to involve a very small number of complainers.  The Monitoring Officer advised that the procedure would be communicated to all Members at the briefing session dedicated to Standards on 30 January 2019.  An e-mail would be sent out to all Members from the Chairman highlighting the importance of attending this briefing session. 



AGREED that:-


(i)        Councillors adopt the same procedure as that used by officers and report any constituent complainers who they consider were becoming vexatious to the Vexatious Complainants Group; and


(ii)       the procedure be communicated to all Councillors at the Members’ briefing on 30 January 2019.



Annual Report on Councillors' Compliance with the Ethical Standards Framework for 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Consider report by Service Director Regulatory Services.  (Copy attached).


2.1     There had been circulated copies of a report by the Monitoring Officer which provided details on Scottish Borders Council's compliance with the Ethical Standards Framework for 2017 – 2018 and also considered matters relating to Training, Register of Interest and the Hospitality Register.  The report provided some additional information and recommendations on further work to be carried out relating to the Council’s Protocol on Councillor’s Personal Conduct/Behaviour and the Code of Conduct for Community Councils.


2.2     The Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland’s annual report was laid before Parliament on 31 October 2018.  During 2017-18 the Commissioner received a total of 146 complaints relating to 80 cases, which represented a reduction in both the number of complaints and number of cases over the previous years.  The majority of complaints received (134) were against Councillors in Local Authorities. The subject matters which attracted complaints were detailed in the report and the main changes from 2016/17 included a significant increase in complaints relating to breach of key principles and misconduct on individual applications and a reduction in the number of complaints alleging disrespect. There were reductions in complaints relating to failure to declare an interest, breaches of confidentiality and misconduct relating to lobbying. The majority of complaints (123) were made by members of the public followed by complaints submitted by Councillors (19). 


2.3     During 2017-18, 4 complaints were lodged against 4 Scottish Borders Councillors.  All were submitted by a member of the public or external organisation.  The complaints received in 2017-18 covered the following areas:- (a) Disrespect of public (2 complaints) and Conflict of Interest/Declarations of Interest (2 complaints). None of the complaints received resulted in referrals to the Standards Commissioner or reports to the Standards Commission within the period covered by this report.  One complainant has subsequently referred his complaint to the Commissioner and the outcome would be reported in next year’s report.  The remaining 3 complaints were not pursued further by the complainants after contact had been made to the Council.  In two instances, it was concluded that no breach had occurred.  In the remaining case the Councillor accepted he had made inappropriate comments for which an apology was made.  The Monitoring Officer reported that there were no concerns as the trend and scale were at a low level which was positive.


2.4    The report went on to explain that the Elected Members’ Registers of Interests were published on the Council’s website and were also available to view in paper format from Democratic Services.  The Registers were reviewed every six months and were amended according to the information provided by the Members.  Members were also required to comply with Section 4 of the Code of Conduct whereby the Registers were updated when a Registerable Interest changed. 


2.5     Elected Members were required, on a monthly basis, to complete a Hospitality Register within which they would declare hospitality/gifts offered (valued at over £50), whether accepted or not.  Members were also required to send a completed monthly pro-forma  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.



Scottish Borders Council

Council Headquarters Newtown St. Boswells Melrose TD6 0SA

Tel: 0300 100 1800


For more Contact Details