Agenda, decisions and minutes

Constitution and Democratic Services Committee
Wednesday, 17th October, 2018 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

9.

Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)

To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.

 

Decision:

None were received.

 

Minutes:

None were received.

 

10.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 21st June 2018

Decision:

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

 

Minutes:

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

 

11.

Wales Audit Office Study – Overview & Scrutiny – Fit for the Future. pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To enable the committee to consider the Wales Audit Office Study – Overview & Scrutiny – Fit for the Future final report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

(a)     That four recommendations made by the Wales Audit Office in their Overview & Scrutiny – Fit for the Future?  Study report be received; and

 

(b)     That the officers be tasked with examining how the proposals could inform future Overview & Scrutiny work, including the circulation of the centre for Public scrutiny self-assessment template.

 

 

Minutes:

            The Democratic Services Manager explained that the Wales audit office (WAO) had conducted their study by conducting interviews of both individuals and groups and by observing at a number of committee meetings between October and December last year. He identified a number of the councillors who had been involved. This had included a group of Members who were newly elected, as well as ‘established’ Members whose service went back to the previous council.

 

 In addition, the Chief Executive, Chief Office (Governance), the Corporate Business and Communications Executive Officer   and the Democratic Services Manager had all been interviewed individually.  

 

The Wales Audit Office had made four recommendations which were:-

 

P1     The Council should undertake regular self-assessment of its overview and scrutiny function, to consider its impact, and identify areas for improvement.

 

P2     Further develop scrutiny forward work programing to:

 

       ensure that the method of scrutiny is best suited to the topic area and the outcome desired, and consider more innovative methods for undertaking scrutiny activity.

 

P3     Overview and scrutiny committees should further improve their arrangements for promoting the engagement of the public and other stakeholders in scrutiny activity.

 

P4     The Council should review the support arrangements for overview and      scrutiny in light of current and future challenges.

 

            The Democratic Services Manager invited Members of the Committee to consider and comment on these recommendations.

 

            Councillor Dave Healey said that he was unable to agree with the recommendations, as he believed that they did not provide a true picture of how Overview & Scrutiny was now working.   He referred to his role as Chair of the Education & Youth Overview & Scrutiny Committee and commented this committee was not ‘officer led’ and referred to examples where Members had challenged officers on the following:-

 

·         Impact of the internet on young people – what was Flintshire doing to highlight the dangers?

·         Initiating a report on the Youth Service and how it operated – this issue was a Member request ;

·         GwE – when they attended the  committee, Members requested updates on diverse issues such as period poverty and school transport;

·         Questions had also been asked about the impact of the cash flat budgets on schools. Head Teachers had attended and their representatives had spoken to Members and officers outlining their concerns.

 

            Councillor Healey concluded by saying that these were just a few examples of how proactive scrutiny had been over the last year.

 

            In response the Democratic Services Manager clarified the study had been carried out last autumn. He said that he, and other heads of democratic services had made the point to WAO that conducting such a study in local authorities which had recently undergone elections was not likely to provide an accurate reflection of scrutiny practice. As the new councils had ‘bedded in in’ it was likely that there would have been a number of changes. In addition, observations from a small number of meetings should not be extrapolated to provide a picture of the whole.

 

            Councillor Paul Shotton referred to the meetings held outside  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Request for Co-option to the Education & Youth Overview & Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 72 KB

For the committee to consider a request for a member of the Flintshire Youth Council to be co-opted to the Education & Youth Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

Decision:

That the co-option  of a Youth Council representative to the Education & Youth Overview & scrutiny committee be agreed in principle, with the caveat that if the Youth Council ceased to function, so would the co-option.

 

Minutes:

            The Democratic Services Manager introduced the report which was presented to gain agreement in principle for a member of the Flintshire Youth Council to attend and take part in the Education & Youth Overview & Scrutiny Committee meetings. 

 

            Councillor Mike Peers asked when was the request being made and what expectations were envisaged for the representative attending Committee meetings.

 

            The Democratic Services Manager responded to say the representative would have a non-statutory role with no right to vote, but would be able to speak.  .  The Committee would also benefit from hearing a young person’s perspective.  He envisaged a reciprocal arrangement with both the scrutiny committee and the Youth Council benefitting from the experience.

 

            Councillor Chris Bithell welcomed the idea for the Education & Youth Committee and inquired whether the Youth Council nominee or deputy would be able to raise issues to go on the agenda.

 

            The Democratic Services Manager said that they would be able so to do. He went on to explain the public engagement protocols which enabled any member of the public to attend, observe and speak at committees.

 

            Councillor Dave Healey welcomed the suggestion, as did other Members.  

 

            The Democratic Services Manager suggested that Alison Thomas and Kate Glover- Jones from the Youth Service who were present could explain how the co-option arrangements would work.   Ms Thomas said the representative would be probably be studying politics at school and would be given the time from school as part of the course.   The Youth Council would be looking at the work covered by Local Authorities.  Ms Thomas explained that the Youth Council was not yet ready to nominate a co-optee, but appreciated the support being given by the agreement in principle.

 

            Councillor Marion Bateman made a suggestion that the Committee observe one of the Youth Council meetings.

 

            The Democratic Services Manager confirmed the new co-optee would be given the same induction session as other co-opted members, to explain the processes of committee and would be fully briefed. He went on suggest a caveat that if the Youth Council ceased to function, the co-option should also cease.

 

            Councillor Jean Davies fully supported the co- option and suggested a mentor from the Committee be appointed to assist the Youth Council Representative

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the co-option  of a Youth Council representative to the Education & Youth Overview & scrutiny committee be agreed in principle, with the caveat that if the Youth Council ceased to function, so would the co-option.

 

13.

Member Development and Engagement Update pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To provide the committee with an update

 

Decision:

(a)       The Member Development & Engagement progress report  be received

and noted; and

 

(b)       That the details of the Welsh Conversation Group be circulated to   Members.

Minutes:

 

                        The Democratic Services Manager introduced the report saying it was the practice for this committee to receive a progress reports on the Member Development and Engagement events which had been organised. This report provided details of events which had been held since the last report on this topic, on 21st June 2018

 

            The Democratic Services Manager provided an overview of attendance at the recent committee specific budget workshops. Councillor Paul Shotton commented it was in the interests of all Members to attend meetings to gain an understanding of the overall picture.  Group Leaders should speak to their Members who do not attend

 

            Councillor Neville Phillips was concerned at the cancellation and changes of timings of meetings which happened frequently. The Democratic Services Manager responded that meetings were often arranged months in advance and sometimes may   be cancelled because of information not being available or that   reports were not ready. As a matter of courtesy, either the Chair or Vice Chair of a committee was consulted before a decision not to proceed with a meeting.

 

            Members thanked the Democratic Services Manager and his team for providing the member development and engagement events.

 

            The Democratic Services Manager referred to the Welsh Language Survey and reported he had received email responses from 54 Councillors with 16 yet to respond.  This report would be brought back to this committee and to Corporate Resources. Members asked for details of the Welsh Conversation Group which had been refereed to.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.      The Member Development & Engagement progress report be received and noted.

2.      That the details of the Welsh Conversation Group be circulated to Members

14.

Members of the public and press in attendance

Decision:

There were no members of the public and press present

Minutes:

There were no members of the public and press present

 

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