Meeting documents

Democratic Services Committee
Wednesday, 20th April, 2016 10.30 am

Date: Wednesday 20th April 2016 Time: 10.30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR MRS. J. MORGAN, J.P.
(VICE-CHAIR IN THE CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from:-

Councillors P. Baldwin, B. Clements, K. Chaplin, K. Hayden, R. Jones and M. Cross.

Noted
2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
3. DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE
Report (191K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Democratic Services Committee held on 16th December, 2015 were submitted for consideration.

RESOLVED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
4. REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL FOR WALES 2016/17
Report (132K/bytes)
Appendix (2M/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Financial Services.

A Member pointed out that the determination of the remuneration levels for senior salary holders was a matter for Council to consider and, therefore, expressed surprise that this report had been submitted to the Democratic Services Committee for consideration. He continued by stating that unless the report had been subject to any prior debate he did not feel inclined to comment on the report without some degree of collective discussion.

He, therefore, advised that if the report was debated he would not participate in either the discussion or a vote and would wish his name recorded as such. The Member, therefore, concluded by proposing that the report be deferred and submitted to Full Council for collective consideration.

The Head of Policy and Performance advised that the Independent Remuneration Report did form part of the Committee's Forward Work Programme, however, the Committee could decide not to make recommendations to Council.

Members were advised that the draft version of the report had been considered at the December meeting of the Committee and Members were advised at that point in time that the final report would be submitted for consideration. Since that time some slight changes had been made to the determinations of the Independent Remuneration Panel which related to the remuneration of Executive Members and Committee Chairs in terms of the payment of differential rates i.e. it was a matter for individual councils to decide at which level a Chair or Executive Member was to be paid to reflect the appropriate responsibility levels and workload.

Due to a number of current Committee Chairs being present at the meeting it was clarified that should a vote be taken in respect of the remuneration level of these positions the Committee Chairs would have to declare an interest and take no part in the discussion or vote. However, this would not apply to the Leader of the Largest Opposition Group as there were no proposed changes to this remuneration level.

A discussion ensued when it was

RESOLVED to note the contents of the report, make no recommendations and refer the report to Full Council for collective consideration.

Deferred
5. MEMBER TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT ACTION PLAN PROGRESS UPDATE
Report (96K/bytes)
Appendix (66K/bytes)

The report of the Head of Policy and Performance was submitted for consideration.

The Head of Policy and Performance spoke briefly to the report and it was

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Member Training and Development Action Plan be updated where relevant following the current Personal Development Process for Members and progress updates continue to form part of the Democratic Services Committee work programme.

Agreed
6. DEMOCRATIC ARRANGEMENTS AND STRUCTURES; PROPOSALS FOR CONSIDERATION
Report (111K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (84K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (60K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (38K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (60K/bytes)
Appendix 5 (36K/bytes)
Appendix 6 (95K/bytes)

Members considered the report of the Head of Policy and Performance.

The Head of Policy and Performance spoke to the report which outlined a number of options following a review of the current democratic arrangements and structures that had included both current internal arrangements and benchmarking information from across local authorities in Wales. The options for consideration were outlined in Paragraph 2 of the report.

The officer referred specifically to Paragraph 5 of the report and pointed out that whilst the Welsh Government funding that had been provided to support the pilot phase of webcasting had now ceased, the authority had recently been notified that there was still sufficient funding available as part of the commissioned service ( 5,600) to webcast a further 2 meetings. It was noted that this funding was ring fenced for webcasting provision and if it was not utilised would have to be forfeited accordingly.

A Member referred to Paragraphs 2.1 to 2.5 and pointed out that because it was the last year of the current Council administration prior to the local elections he recommended that the status quo remain in terms of the cycle of meetings.

Members, thereupon, discussed each of the following options in detail and recommended as follows:-

Frequency/Cycle of Full Council Meetings

Resolved to recommend retention of the current approach i.e. Full Council meetings to be called dependent on business to be addressed.

Frequency/Cycle of Executive Committees

Resolved to recommend that no changes be made to the current cycle i.e. continue with 3 weekly committees with the flexibility built in dependent on Forward Work Programme items and the business that needs to be undertaken.

Frequency/Cycle of Scrutiny Committees

A discussion ensued regarding the frequency of Scrutiny Committees when various opinions were expressed. One Member felt that additional meetings of the Scrutiny Committee should be held (on a 4 weekly cycle) in order to address the important issues and challenges facing the authority and to hold the Executive to account, whilst another Member favoured the retention of the 6 weekly cycle with the flexibility built in dependent on the forward work programme items and the business that needs to be undertaken.

A Member commended the 4 weekly cycle because this assisted new Members with their learning and development. However, he referred to the current staffing structure and pointed out that a 4 weekly cycle would not be feasible to implement at the moment and, therefore, said that there was a clear rational argument to maintain the status quo until after next local election.

In reply to a question, the Head of Policy and Performance said that the cycle was built around the Council business rather than staffing arrangements. There were robust arrangements in place to deal with business and, therefore, if the 6 weekly cycle was adopted Committee Chairs would have flexibility built in dependent on the forward work programme and the business that needed to be undertaken.

A Member requested that due to recent departmental changes that Members be provided current structural arrangements for their information.

Resolved to recommend that the 6 weekly cycle of Scrutiny Committees be retained with the flexibility built in dependent on Forward Work Programme items and the business that needs to be undertaken.

Structure of the Council's Scrutiny Committees

Resolved to recommend that the Scrutiny Committee Structure remain the same.

In response to a comment, the Head of Policy and Performance advised that the appointment of Scrutiny Co-opted Members would be pursued under separate arrangements.

Recording and Reporting of Formal Committee Meetings: Webcasting

The Head of Policy and Performance outlined the current financial implications relating to webcasting and advised that there was sufficient grant funding remaining to webcast a further 2 meetings. It was noted that this funding was ring-fenced for webcasting purposes.

Resolved to recommend that

The remaining funding be utilised to webcast two further meetings, one formal committee meeting (based on the highest viewing figures) and the possibility for the Youth Council meeting to be webcast be explored.

Following the end of the Welsh Government grant funding and pilot phase, the webcasting of meetings cease.

Recording and Report of Formal Committee Meetings: Minutes

Resolved to recommend that Option 1 be agreed i.e no changes be made to the current process for producing minutes.

Presenting Reports into Formal Committee Meetings

A discussion ensued when it was agreed by Members that Scrutiny Chairs should go into Executive and present reports as this linked into the competency framework.

Resolved to recommend that

The current protocol be enhanced (set out within the Executive Member Handbook) specific for invitations of Executive Members into Scrutiny Committees, Executive Members to attend to present reports as part of the Committee Forward Work Programme on areas which would be considered as key decisions for pre decision Scrutiny include those of:-

  • A strategic or controversial nature.
  • Were likely to have a significant effect on the delivery of Council services across the County Borough.
  • Have a significant element of risk implications.

In addition, it was agreed as part of the scrutiny action plan and protocol, that scrutiny committee chairs attend Executive Committee to present reports where the scrutiny committee were recommending an amendment or additions to the report recommendations for Executive to consider.

Future Reports

A Member referred to the Democratic arrangements and structures and said that this would need to be reviewed early within the new Council year in order that Members had sufficient time to consider future arrangements.

It was, thereupon, agreed that the Democratic Arrangements and Structures review for 2017/18 formed part of the Democratic Services Committee Forward Work programme.

RESOLVED to recommend accordingly.

FURTHER RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the above be recommendations be referred to Full Council for consideration.

APPRECIATION

The Chair reported that this was the final meeting of the Democratic Services Committee within the current cycle and expressed her appreciation to Members for their attendance and hard work over the course of the year.

It was agreed that a letter be forwarded to the Chair of the Democratic Services Committee expressing best wishes for a speedy recovery.

RESOLVED that an appropriate letter be sent.

Agreed