Agenda item

Protocols for Confidentiality and Officer Conflict of Interests STA20-012

Reporting Person - Peter Bryant


Peter Bryant, Director of Legal and Democratic Services, introduced the report and stated that at its meeting on 30 July 2020, the Council had considered a report on the recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in respect of the Woking Football Club and Associated Developments Task Group report.  It had been agreed that draft Protocols on Confidentiality and Officer Conflict of Interests would be received by the Standards and Audit Committee, and for the Committee to make recommendations back to full Council.  The Committee received a report with the two draft Protocols attached as appendices.


The Committee was advised that the draft Confidentiality Protocol would deal with the rare occasions where the Council was involved in a transaction which would require confidentiality, in order to protect the interests of the Council and / or the party the Council was dealing with.  The Protocol referred to Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) entered into with the Council, confidentiality clauses within contracts, and situations where Council and Committees discussed matters under Part II.  Provisions were made for the Council to undertake business on a confidential basis whilst making clear that the level of confidentiality should be kept at the minimum required to enable the business to take place, with a significant increase in Member oversight available through a new Register alongside restrictions on the process for drawing up new NDAs.


The Chairman noted that Reviews for each NDA would take place on the twelve month anniversary of each agreement.  In addition, whilst the previous report to Council stated that contractual confidentiality clauses would be drawn up alongside standard timescales for each clause, it was stated that this would be carried out either at the time of the next contract being entered into, with the resulting contract being received by the Council or Executive, or a separate report being received by the Executive if no contract was being entered into in the near future.


The Protocol contained an Annual Review and it was agreed that it should also constitute a review of the Protocol itself as well as the confidentiality provisions agreed by Officers under NDAs or by Council or Executive.  A new paragraph 5.0 of the Protocol would be added accordingly, headed ‘Review of Protocol’. 


The Committee received the Officer Conflicts of Interest Protocol which drew together the existing controls on Officers’ conflicts of interest. These were stated to be contained in the Local Government Act 1972, Officer Employment Rules and the Code of Conduct for Employees Policy. 


Regarding the issue of public perception, Peter Bryant stated that an Officer conflict of interest would arise if so deemed by a reasonable person in full knowledge of the facts, and that an Officer should only carry out tasks which were fully justifiable to the public.  It was noted that the report made provision for the Monitoring Officer to carry out a general review of the actions undertaken by officers, and agreed that further provision be made for the Deputy Monitoring Officer to undertake a general review of any actions undertaken by the Monitoring Officer.  Paragraph 4.6 of the Protocol would be amended accordingly.




That the draft Confidentiality Protocol and Officer Conflicts of Interest Protocol, as attached to the minutes of the meeting of the Standards and Audit Committee, be adopted by the Council.

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