Agenda, decisions and minutes

Constitution Committee
Wednesday, 27th January, 2016 2.00 pm

Venue: Delyn Committee Room, County Hall, Mold CH7 6NA

Contact: Maureen Potter 01352 702322  Email: maureen.potter@flintshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

17.

Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)

Purpose: To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.

Minutes:

Councillor Bernie Attridge declared a personal interest in the following item:

 

Item 7: Proposed Alterations to Local Resolution Procedure

 

18.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Purpose: To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the last meeting.

 

Decision:

That the minutes be received, approved and signed by the Chairman as a

correct record.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 7 October 2015, were

submitted.

 

Matters arising

Councillor Clive Carver sought clarification of the terminology ‘true and correct record’ which was used when the minutes of meetings were approved.  The Chief Officer (Governance) commented on the legal implications around approval of the minutes of meetings.

   

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes be received, approved and signed by the Chairman as a

correct record.

 

 

 

19.

ANNUAL REVIEW OF THE CODE OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To consider the annual review of the Code of Corporate Governance.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the updating changes to the Code of Corporate Governance as shown in 

Appendix 1 to the report be approved. 

 

Minutes:

The Internal Audit Manager introduced a report on the Annual Review of the Code of Corporate Governance.  He explained that the Code was reviewed annually to ensure  it was up to date and complied with all relevant legislation and other requirements.  The review for 2015 had been completed by the Corporate Governance Working Group and the updating changes proposed to the Code were detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.  The Internal Audit Manager  commented on the main changes this year and advised that they had been considered and agreed by the Audit Committee earlier that day. As the Code of Corporate Governance formed part of the Constitution, when the Code was amended there was a need to update the Constitution with the amendments.    

 

            RESOLVED:

That the updating changes to the Code of Corporate Governance as shown in 

Appendix 1 to the report be approved. 

 

20.

THE '6 MONTH RULE' pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Councillors are required to attend at least 1 meeting of full Council, Cabinet and committee or a working group every 6 months. Failure to do so, without full Council approval, results in disqualification. It is not clear whether attendance as an observer is sufficient to satisfy the 6 month rule.

Decision:

(a)       That, until such time as the position is clarified by further legislation or case law, the following convention will be used, in addition to the legislation, to interpret whether a councillor has satisfied the 6 month rule:

 

‘Attendance by a councillor to observe, listen to or speak at any meetings of the Cabinet (or any of its sub-committees), a committee, a sub-committee, a working group or task and finish group or member workshop (whether the public is entitled to attend some or all of the meeting) will be deemed sufficient to satisfy the requirement to attend meetings contained within s.85 of the Local government Act 1972 (“the 6 month rule”)’; and

 

(b)       That Council be recommended to expressly confirm the authority of the Monitoring Officer to decide whether a councillor has complied with the 6 month rule.

 

Minutes:

The Chief Officer (Governance) introduced a report on the ‘6 Month Rule’.  He provided background information and advised that all councillors are required to attend, as a member, at least one meeting of full Council, Cabinet, a Committee or working group, every 6 months.  Failure to do so without prior approval from full Council results in disqualification. 

 

The Chief Officer referred to the situation in relation to a councillor who had attended an overview and scrutiny committee meeting, intending to participate as a member, only to find that she had not been nominated by her Group as a member of that committee.  However, the councillor remained at the meeting as an observer.  The Chief Officer referred to the legislation under S.85(1) and 85(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 and advised that it was not clear whether attendance as an observer was sufficient to satisfy the 6 month rule.  As the answer was unclear from the legislation and there was no relevant case law on the issue, the Committee was asked to establish the convention that would be used to judge this and future cases.

 

Councillor Tim Newhouse queried the attendance of the Councillor as an observer at the meeting of the overview and scrutiny Committee held in June 2015 and suggested that the Councillor should be disqualified as from 13 November 2015 as she was in breach of the 6 month rule.  He  proposed that the item be deferred to the next meeting of the Constitution Committee.  

 

Councillor Alex Aldridge commented on the need for ‘inclusiveness’ and to encourage greater participation from young people in how the Council conducted its business.   He expressed concern that the 6 month rule did not take into account attendance at the Planning Committee to speak on Ward issues, site visits, meetings, attendance as an observer in any committee, and the work undertaken by a Councillor on behalf of their Ward.

 

Councillor Aaron Shotton proposed that the meeting be adjourned to give  Members the opportunity to reflect on the issues raised during discussion and this was agreed by the Committee. 

                         

The meeting was adjourned at  2.40 p.m. and reconvened at 2.50 pm. 

 

Councillor Alex Aldridge said that on reflection the recommendation contained in the Chief Officer’s report offered a better solution and therefore he would withdraw his earlier proposition and move the recommendation.  He did so and this was duly seconded.

 

The Chief Officer  reiterated the lack of case law and the need for a commonsense approach to resolve the problem now facing the Council.  Concerning the accuracy of minutes, the Chief Officer referred to the standard textbook on local government meeting procedure.

 

Councillor Aaron Shotton commented on the need for clarity on attendance at meetings.  He said that there was no doubt that the Councillor  referred to had attended the meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee in question in good faith. His particular concern was that work carried out in the Ward by Members was not reflected in the Local Government Act  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

CONTRACTS REQUIRING SEALING pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To recommend that the threshold should be increased to £250,000

Decision:

That section 12.10 of the Constitution be amended  to reflect that in the Contract Procedure rules, as the recommendation, to read -

‘When any document is necessary to any legal procedure or proceedings on behalf of the Council, it will be signed by the Chief Officer, Governance or other person authorised by him/her, unless any enactment otherwise authorises or requires, or the Council has given requisite authority to some other person’.

 

Minutes:

The Chief Officer (Governance) introduced a report on contracts requiring sealing and explained that certain contracts are required by contract procedure rules to be “under seal” (to have the Council’s official seal attached rather than being signed by a manager).  One such category is contracts worth more than £250,000.  Section 12 of the Constitution requires all contracts over £50,000 to be in writing and either signed by two officers or sealed.  For the sake of clarity there should be only one set of rules.

 

              RESOLVED:

 

That section 12.10 of the Constitution be amended  to reflect that in the Contract Procedure rules, as the recommendation, to read -

‘When any document is necessary to any legal procedure or proceedings on behalf of the Council, it will be signed by the Chief Officer, Governance or other person authorised by him/her, unless any enactment otherwise authorises or requires, or the Council has given requisite authority to some other person’.

 

22.

Proposed alterations to Local Resolution Procedure pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To review the Local Resolution Procedure after it being in operation for 2 years.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the amended wording of the Local Resolution Procedure (as appended to

the report) be approved and recommended to the County Council for adoption.

 

 

Minutes:

The Chief Officer (Governance) introduced a report on the proposed alterations to the Local Resolution Procedure (LRP).  He provided background information and referred to the main considerations around the  LRP which were detailed in the report.  Members were asked to  consider the proposed amendments to the LRP as outlined in the tracked changes to the current LRP which was appended to the report.

               

              RESOLVED:

 

That the amended wording of the Local Resolution Procedure (as appended to

the report) be approved and recommended to the County Council for adoption.

 

 

23.

Members of the Press and Public in Attendance

Minutes:

There was one member of the public and one member of the press in attendance.

          

 

 

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