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Agenda, decisions and minutes

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

Contact: Sharon Thomas / 01352 702324  Email: sharon.b.thomas@flintshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

33.

Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)

Purpose: To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.

Decision:

None were received.

Minutes:

None were received.

34.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Purpose: To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 6th March 2017.

Decision:

That the minutes be signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 6 March 2017 were submitted.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes be signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

35.

Dispensations

Purpose: To receive any requests for dispensations.

Decision:

None were received.

Minutes:

None were received.

36.

White Paper - Reforming Local Government: Resilient and Renewed pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To update members about the proposed local government bill, to highlight the key differences from the previous proposals and to take views on those proposals in order to provide a consultation response

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the views on the proposals within the White Paper relating to the business of the Standards Committee be reported in response to the consultation.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer presented a report on the proposals set out in the Welsh Government (WG) White Paper ‘Reforming Local Government: Resilient and Renewed’ which was out for consultation.  The aim of the White Paper was to set out a broad programme of local government reform including improvement in the quality of leadership and accountability in councils.  The implications of the proposals relating to the duties and business of standards committees were summarised and views were sought to respond to WG by the deadline.

 

(i) Duties on members of County Councils to show how they communicate and engage with their electorate and the role of standards committees in providing advice and training to members about their new duties

 

Robert Dewey felt that the document implied that WG was adopting its own view on how best to deal with constituents and that the ‘appetite for reform supported by greater regional working’ did not conform with the general opinion.

 

During discussion on the proposal for a councillor to be removed from office in the event of a breach of duties, the threshold of more than 20% of the electorate signing a petition was questioned as election turnouts often failed to achieve that level.

 

PhillipaEarlam sought clarity on funding for the additional duties and training, as well as details on the process for a petition and whether this would be available electronically, which gave rise to concerns about the authenticity of signatures.  The Monitoring Officer advised of comparative legislative provisions on petitions in England but said that such petitions could involve logistical issues when checking the authenticity of signatories.

 

With regard to advice and guidance on the new duties for members, a number of training sessions had been scheduled after the forthcoming Elections with which members of the Standards Committee could be involved if they wished.  Robert Dewey expressed an interest in taking part.

 

Councillor Arnold Woolley felt that a basic training framework should be adopted for councillors to achieve or train towards an appropriate standard.  He went on to share his concerns on other aspects of the White Paper such as the proposed restructuring of Overview & Scrutiny and Audit Committees, the reduction in town/community councils and the impact on county councils if the role of town/community councils was strengthened.  He also felt that the practice of holding councillor surgeries was not successful in engaging with constituents.  On the aim to encourage a broader range of councillors to better represent the demographics, he pointed out the time needed to carry out the role which presented challenges for those in employment.

 

(ii) Duties on leaders of political groups to promote good standards of conduct amongst their members and to co-operate with standards committees in exercising their functions

 

The Monitoring Officer explained that the proposals in relation to Group Leaders were to be welcomed though there were already strong Group Leaders who tackled such issues anyway.  He suggested that the Committee may wish to explore this proposal further by meeting with Group  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Training materials for new and returning county councillors and town & community councillors pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To advise members of the proposed training materials agreed with the WLGA and to seek approval of those materials for use by the Monitoring Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer for delivering training to new and returning councillors

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the content of the training materials for the purpose of providing training to new and returning county councillors, and town and community councillors, be approved.

Minutes:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer presented a report on training materials produced by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) for new and returning councillors to assist them in understanding the implications of the Code of Conduct.  These were intended to be a generic Member training framework to be adapted locally by councils for their own use.

 

PhillipaEarlam indicated her interest in the forthcoming Member training sessions, as had Robert Dewey earlier in the meeting.  It was agreed that the Committee Officer would circulate details of the sessions.

 

Councillor Arnold Woolley said that Member attendance at training sessions should be published online.  Ken Molyneux felt it would be useful to display the general principles of Member conduct on a reference card.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the content of the training materials for the purpose of providing training to new and returning county councillors, and town and community councillors, be approved.

38.

Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Purpose: For the Committee to consider topics to be included on the attached Forward Work Programme.

Decision:

That the Forward Work Programme be noted.

Minutes:

The Committee received the current Forward Work Programme for consideration.  Officers noted Robert Dewey’s request to confirm the date for the joint meeting in October 2017 as soon as possible.

 

As this was the last meeting of the Committee before the Elections, the Chairman took the opportunity to thank all the members for their contributions and to wish them well.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Forward Work Programme be noted.

39.

Members of the Press and Public in Attendance

Minutes:

There were no members of the press or public in attendance.

 

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