Agenda and minutes

Constitution and Democratic Services Committee
Thursday, 26th April, 2018 2.00 pm

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

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

Note: Moved from 15/03/18 

Items
No. Item

22.

Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)

To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.

 

Minutes:

None were received.

23.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting on 31 January 2018.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 31st January 2018 were submitted and confirmed as a correct record.

 

Matters Arising

 

Councillor Peers asked for an update on his proposal that new Members of the Planning Committee should attend their first few meetings as observers to help them to participate at further meetings.  The Democratic Services Manager explained that the suggestion had been submitted to the Chief Officer (Planning, Environment and Economy) for consideration by the Planning Strategy Group.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

24.

Budget Consultation Process pdf icon PDF 106 KB

To enable the Committee to consider the review of the Budget Process and make recommendations to Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced the report which provided feedback from Members and officers in developing the new approach for the budget consultation process.  Member consultation feedback was appended to the report, as was a proposed staged budget process flow chart. An amended form of words for insertion into section 16 of the Constitution was recommended in the report.

 

Following the consultation with Members, a set of requirements and responses/comments were outlined in the report which had been used to inform the proposed flow chart. The flow chart was also based on the 2018/19 approach but it was not prescriptive; the flow chart demonstrated a three stage process but dependent on circumstances, a two or four stage process could also be adopted.

 

The proposed wording for the Constitution was:

 

Based on good practice and the need for efficiency, the Council had developed a staged Budget Process, as illustrated in the flow chart.  This is not prescriptive; between two and four stages would be equally reasonable, depending on the circumstances in different years.  At each stage, there is four weeks available for consultation, both on an individual member basis and through one of the six Overview and Scrutiny Committees. Time is made available for individual Members and Overview and Scrutiny Committees to ask for additional information, up to and including a final deadline which will be set out at the start of the process.

 

At the end of the consultation, Cabinet will draw up firm proposals, having regard to the responses to the consultation.  Any report to Council will reflect comments made by consultees and the Cabinet’s response.  Overview and Scrutiny Committees may also prepare a response direct to Council for a non-executive decision, such as the Budget.  Throughout the process, up to the deadline which will be determined on an annual basis, the Council’s statutory officers will be available to guide and assist Members who wish to explore alternative proposals.

 

The Chief Executive explained that a lot of work had been undertaken on possible options to inform the flow chart.  He said the budget process for 2019/20 had already commenced with a report to Cabinet earlier that week on the projected budget gap.  Following the budget process the previous year, an early meeting with head teachers and Chairs of Governors had been arranged to take place the following week to consider budget scenarios.  Following an Income Generation Workshop where Members were challenging, work was now underway on options.  He referred to items such as Tracking Budget Efficiency and the Income Strategy which had already been placed on the forward work programme for Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee to track outcomes.

 

Councillor Dunbar commented on the efficiencies that had been achieved over recent years but emphasised the Council was now dependent on help from National Government and Welsh Government (WG).  He supported the recommendations in the report and welcomed the flow chart.  He said discussions with Group Leaders were essential so that they could report back to their respective groups.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Information Sharing within the Council pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Purpose to adopt revised rules on sharing information within the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer (Governance) introduced the report on information sharing within the Council.  At the Committee meeting in November it had been agreed that a working group would be established to draw up fresh guidance on how to share information within the Council.

 

The working group, chaired by Councillor Marion Bateman, met twice in December 2017 and drew up draft guidelines which had been shared with officers and Members in consultation.  The results of that work were a set of principles relating to how and when the Council would share information in its internal communications.  If approved by County Council the guidelines would be inserted into the Constitution.

 

At the working group meetings a number of principles were approved.  A number of scenarios were also considered which looked at sharing information from a number of different perspectives such as a Councillor speaking to an officer, a Councillor speaking to another Councillor or a Councillor speaking to a constituent. 

 

The principles and examples were then subject to consultation with officers and an all Member workshop.  The principles were broadly supported during the process through a few improvements were made and the final document was appended to the report.

 

The Chief Officer reinforced the importance of what information could be shared and provided details of consequences that could be faced from under or over sharing information.  The report would be submitted to County Council on 1st May 2018.

 

The Chief Executive thanked everybody who had been involved in the process for their contributions and said that as well as the principles being included in the Constitution, they would also be disseminated amongst officers so that they were properly understood.

 

Councillor Heesom thanked the Chief Officer for the report which was welcomed.  The Chief Officer added thanks to the Democratic Services Manager and the Information Governance Manager for their contributions.  Councillor Bateman also expressed her thanks, as Chair of the working group, to the officers for their advice and the Members for their contributions.

 

Councillor Williams said the process should not end at this point and further discussions should take place with officers on the decision making process.  The Chief Officer responded that proactivity was an important point.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)       That the guidelines be recommended to County Council for adoption into the Constitution; and

 

(b)       That the members of the working group be thanked for their work.

26.

Member Development Update pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To update the Committee on recent and forthcoming Member workshops and briefings.

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager presented the Member Development Update report and explained that following the local elections the previous year an Induction Programme was designed to provide new and returning Members with essential knowledge to function effectively as a Councillor.

 

Regular update reports on progress on the Member Development events would be reported to the Constitution and Democratic Services Committee.  In addition, if Members had any suggestions for future Member Development events they could contact the Democratic Services Manager.

 

Events that had taken place since the previous meeting were:

 

·         Well-being of Future Generations Act Workshop – 8th February 2018

·         Health and Safety for Councillors – 15th March 2018

·         Planning Inspectorate Training – 9th April 2018

·         Review of the Council’s subsidies for Public Transport Workshop – 11th April 2018

·         Information Sharing Principles Workshop – 16th April 2018

·         Income Generation Workshop – 18th April 2018

 

Forthcoming workshops were:

 

·         Council Plan – 29th May 2018

·         General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) briefing – June 2018

·         Performance Monitoring Workshop – July 2018

 

Following the rollout of Domestic Violence Awareness training for staff, it was also proposed that this be offered to Members.  Similarly with the “Look at Me” campaign which was an awareness training session on Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

In response to a comment from Councillor Smith, the Chief Executive said that if he was unable to attend a training session that he was interested in, officers could provide a condensed one to one session for him. He confirmed that the Welsh Language sessions that staff were invited to attend were also open to Members.

 

Councillor Christine Jones suggested Corporate Parenting training which was welcomed by the Democratic Services Manager.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)       That the progress with Member Development events be noted; and

 

(b)       That suggestions for future Member Development events be discussed with the Democratic Services Manager.

27.

Members of the public and press in attendance

Minutes:

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

 

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