Labour withdraw from "discredited" standards regime

Labour councillors have withdrawn their members from the Leader’s Panel – a committee that hears complaints against councillors - after the Conservatives voted to retain their political majority on the panel and refused to introduce an independent Chair and a majority of independent members.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Alison Moore, proposed reforming the current Leader’s Panel citing a loss of confidence in it from both the public and elected councillors after controversial decisions by the committee led to speculation in the press that the system was politically partisan.

Cllr Moore wrote to all councillors before last night's Full Council vote on the matter urging them to support her proposal to reform the Leader’s Panel to an independently chaired, non-politically balanced committee comprising one representative from each political party and a majority of independent members.
 
After the Conservatives refused, Cllr Moore announced Labour would be withdrawing their members from the Leader’s Panel.
 
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Moore said: “This is the third time this year I have raised the issue – it was time to act. The so-called Group Leaders Panel and the standards process in Barnet has been discredited. It is not fit for purpose, and has lost the confidence of the public and councillors. The Labour Group has withdrawn from the process on a point of principle until the committee structure is reformed and its credibility and integrity restored.”
 
Notes:

A copy of Cllr Moore’s proposed amendment can be found here: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s20044/Amendment%20in%20the%20name%20of%20Councillor%20Alison%20Moore.pdf 
 
A copy of Cllr Moore’s email to all councillors can be found here:
 
Dear Councillors,

I am taking the unusual step of writing to all councillors prior to the debate of the Constitution, Ethics and Probity Committee Report this evening to explain why I will be moving an amendment to the report. I will be proposing reforming the so-called Leaders Panel as an independently chaired, non-politically balanced Standards Panel comprising a representative from each political party.
I am doing this for two reasons. The first is that I believe the Leaders Panel in its current form (politically balanced and without independent members) has lost the confidence of the public and members alike and we need to act to restore the integrity of the process. The second is that, contrary to advice given at the time the Standards Committee was abandoned, it is perfectly permissible under the Localism Act to maintain an independent Chair and independent members and the committee certainly does not need to adhere to political balance.

I believe that we have an opportunity to act right now and restore a credible panel and process for dealing with complaints against councillors in Barnet.

I am appealing to the common sense and sense of integrity of each of you to do the right thing and support my amendment so that we can move on from the current entirely unsupportable position.

Yours,

Cllr Alison Moore

Barnet Labour Group Leader and Leader of the Opposition

Previous coverage of the standards process can be found here.

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For further details please contact:
cllr.a.moore@barnet.gov.uk
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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