This item was introduced by the
Head of Law, who explained that the report proposed amendments to
the Council’s Constitution to reflect the provisions
contained within Schedule 2 Localism Act 2011.
Members carefully considered
the proposed amendments, and highlighted the following
- Councillor Hall asked
whether the Councillor Call for Action had been abolished as part
of the Act. The Head of Law said that
it remained and that it had been consolidated within the Overview
and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.
- Councillor Jeffrey
said that the Constitutional wording around the Licensing Committee
suggested that the Committee was obliged to establish four
Sub-Committees and asked whether this was the case. The Head of Law said that this option existed for
the Committee but was not mandatory and said that this would be
- Councillor Jeffrey
noted that whether proposed changes to the scope of questions could
be robustly enforced. She noted that
questions were often posed at full Council that were substantially
the same as a question put to Council within the previous three
months, in spite of the fact that this was not allowed for
constitutionally. Members suggested
that Council Questions were on occasion abused. Councillor Wise said that it would be helpful if
questions of a similar nature were assimilated to allow for more
questions at one session. The Head of
Law said that there was a balance to be struck in permitting as
many Council Questions as possible to ensure transparency while
ruling out questions that were frivolous or repetitive.
Clutten said that similar questions
could be asked at consecutive Council meetings because the answers
provided were insufficient the first time and said that it would be
helpful for Members the full range of ways beyond Council Questions
in which Members could source information.
- Councillor Britton suggested that
the wording around Quorum be amended to read “A meeting of
the Executive or a Committee of it will not be quorate if neither the Mayor not the Deputy Mayor
are present unless five other Members of
the Executive are present.” The
Head of Law said that this would be amended accordingly.
- The Head of Law said that a number
of Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules were subject to change, as
set out within the report, but that many of the legislative changes
had already been incorporated. The
changes would help in allowing Members to raise items more easily
on Overview and Scrutiny agenda.
- Councillor Jeffrey asked what had
necessitated the amendments to the Contract Procedure
Rules. Ms Helen Glass said that this
was required due to amendments around legislation for Category C
- The Head of Law said that the
proposed Constitutional amendments also reflected that the Health
and Wellbeing Board (HWB), currently in shadow form, would be a
formal Committee of the Council from April 2013. Councillor Jeffrey asked whether the HWB would be
bound by the same Constitutional regulations as other
Committees. The Head of Law said that
the Council was awaiting guidance from the Department of Health and
the Department of Communities and Local Government on this point,
and that further changes to the Constitution would most likely need
to be made in due course to reflect this guidance.
- Members noted the proposed
amendments to Members’ Allowances, noting that, due to
changes set out within the Localism Act, an elected Member rather
than an Independent Member would now take the Chair of the
Standards Committee, and that allowances would need to be amended
to reflect this. Members also noted the
amendments allowed for an allowance to be granted to the Chair of
the Strategic Planning Committee in the instance that they were not
chair of one of the other Planning Committees.
Members said that it would be useful if, in
future, changes to the Constiution were
marked with “tracked changes” to allow Members to more
easily monitor such changes. The Head
of Law acknowledged the point.
The Head of Law said that the mandate for
local authorities to make an e-petitions
facility available had been repealed by the Localism Act and asked
Members for their views on whether the Council should maintain this
facility. Members said that it was not
a facility that had been commonly used by Borough residents and
that remained a number of ways in which members of the public could
engage with the Council. However, some
Members expressed concern that removing e-petitions would remove
one recourse for members of the public
to place items on Committee agenda and were keen to ensure that
measures which improved transparency and openness should
The Chair said that differing views on
e-petitions had been expressed and said that the Working Party
would reconsider this at a future date.
RESOLVED a) that the proposed
amendments to the Constitution be approved, subject to
Members’ further amendments as suggested above, and
recommended their approval to full Council.
b) that a report on Special Responsibility Allowances, particularly
in relation to the Chairs of Strategic Planning and Standards
Committees, will be brought to Council on 26 September 2012;
c) that officers give further
consideration to the maintenance of the e-petitions facility and
make recommendations to the Working Party as appropriate.