Agenda and minutes

Constitution Committee
Wednesday 29 May 2019 10.30 am

Venue: Meeting Room 6 - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of chair

To elect a Chair for the 2019-20 Civic Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Cllr Mark Hawthorne be elected to the position of Chair of the Constitution Committee for the 2019-20 Civic Year.

2.

Election of Vice-Chair

The Constitution makes provision for the Constitution Committee to elect a Vice-chair if members so wish.

 

To determine whether the committee should elect a Vice-chair, and if so, to elect a member to be Vice-chair.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Cllr Colin Hay be elected to the position of Vice-Chair of the Constitution Committee for the 2019-20 Civic Year.

3.

Apologies for absence

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Lynden Stowe. Cllr Tim Harman substituted for Cllr Stowe.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 89 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2019 were approved and signed by the Chair.

5.

Public Questions

To answer any written public questions about matters which are within the powers and duties of the Committee. The closing date/time for receipt of questions is 10.00am on Wednesday 22nd May 2019.

 

Minutes:

No public questions had been received.

6.

Members' Questions

To answer any written members’ questions.  The closing date/time for the receipt of questions is 10.00am on Wednesday 22nd May 2019.

Minutes:

No members questions had been received.

7.

Employee Code of Conduct May 2019 update pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1       Consideration was given to a report relating to changes to the Employee Code of Conduct. Jane Burns, the Monitoring Officer, explained that there were some minor changes/updates but the main section to highlight was clarifying the expectations on accepting gifts and hospitality. Members were informed that this policy was now inline with the Members code of conduct.

 

RESOLVED to ratifythe changes to the Constitution made by the Monitoring Officer relating to the Employee Code of Conduct.

 

 

8.

Scrutiny review pdf icon PDF 2 MB

At the Council meeting on 27 March 2019, a new scrutiny committee structure and revised working arrangements were approved. Appointments were made to the new structure at the Council meeting on 15 May 2019.

 

The Constitution has been revised to reflect the new arrangements (please refer to the attached document). The opportunity has also been taken to tidy up the wider format of the Constitution.

 

Members are asked to ratify the changes prior to formal adoption by full Council.

Minutes:

8.1       Simon Harper, Head of Democratic Services, opened the item by explaining that following the Council’s scrutiny review, members had ratified the new Committee structure at full Council in March 2019. The changes to the Constitution being presented to the Committee were as a result of that new Committee structure, as well as minor tidying up.

 

8.2       Members were informed that the changes to the Committee’s terms of reference have been drafted using permissive wording to make sure scrutiny was not too restricted. The amendments were taken as read and the item was opened out to questions and comments.

 

8.3       The Committee wondered if there had been any feedback from District Councils regarding the split of health and adult social care from the original Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Members were informed that the Districts hadn’t welcomed the split overall but were reassured that there would be at least two joint meetings per year, plus a review of the arrangements after a year.

 

8.4       A member noted that the responsibility for risk management was now included within the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny terms of reference.

 

ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

 

8.5       There was a discussion about where the responsibility for community development sat within the new Committee structure. Members noted that it would naturally fall within the remit of the new Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee but may also fall within other Committees from time to time. It was requested that the Constitution draft be amended to reflect these comments.

 

ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

 

8.6       During the scrutiny review, members discussed the possibility of public and member questions being introduced at Scrutiny Committees. It was confirmed that the Health Scrutiny Committee was going to trial an arrangement similar to full Council and Cabinet. This would take the form of public and member representations at Committee, rather than questions. It was accepted that asking questions would be unfair to Chairs of the Scrutiny Committee who were not the decision makers. This practice would be rolled out further if successful.

 

8.7       The Committee requested that under Article 5, the Chair of Council – 5.02 to be updated to the Chair’s ‘civic role’ as opposed to ‘ceremonial role’.

 

ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

 

8.8       Reflecting on the wording of Article 8, the Committee agreed that the role of Scrutiny Committees should include policy development as well as policy review, as the latter was retrospective.

 

ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

 

8.9       During discussions, the Chair requested that at the next Constitution Committee, there was a review of the business for Council agendas.

 

ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

 

8.10    The following points were highlighted by a member on the terms of reference for the Audit and Governance Committee:

 

·         Under section 4, the Committee should be considering the value for money of the External Audit of the Council’s services and functions when reviewing.

ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

 

·         Under section 5, the wording does not cover the external audit on the effectiveness of the internal audit itself.

8.11    The Committee was informed that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

MONITORING OFFICER CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To note the attached reports.

Minutes:

RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO THE COUNCIL that the changes to the Constitution made by the Monitoring Officer relating to Cabinet Member responsibility and friendly amendments be ratified.

10.

Motion 837 - Parental leave for councillors

To note the motion which was passed unanimously at Council on 15 May 2019. Democratic Services will be undertaking research to bring a report to the next Constitution Committee on 14 October 2019.

 

This Council notes:

 

·         The under-representation of women at all levels of politics.

·         Nationally only 4% of councils have a policy on parental leave for councillors.

·         That, whilst proper parental leave is important to all parents, it has been particularly highlighted as an issue affecting women’s participation in local government.

 

Consequently this Council resolves to task the Constitution Committee to develop policies and, if necessary, constitutional amendments, to give councillors similar rights to parental and adoptive leave as members of staff.

Minutes:

10.1    Simon Harper, Head of Democratic Services, advised that the final agenda item was for the Committee to note.

 

10.2.   Members were informed that Democratic Services had begun carrying out research with the Local Government Association and other local authorities to help shape a parental leave policy for councillors.

 

10.3    There were several questions about the detail of this policy including; attendance at meetings, political balance, handling of case work etc. in the councillor’s absence. Members noted that this would be a discussion for each political group and Democratic Services when a policy was in place as to how it would work in practice.

 

10.4    The Committee highlighted that regardless of group size, all councillors should be entitled to the same level of support.