Agenda and minutes

Constitution Committee - Monday 22 January 2024 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Sophie Benfield  Email: sophie.benfield@gloucestershire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

See above.

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 12 June 2023.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 12 June 2023 were agreed as a correct record.

 

3.

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 15 January.

Minutes:

No questions received from members of the public.

 

4.

Members' Questions

To answer any written member questions about matters which are within the powers and duties of the Committee. The closingdate/time for receipt of questions is 10.00am on 15 January.

Minutes:

No questions received from Members

 

5.

INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL REPORT pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Minutes:

5.1     Richard Blamey, Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP), provided information on the review process and set out the recommendations included in the report.

 

5.2     He outlined that there had been disappointment at the lack of response from members to being invited to speak to the Panel.

 

5.3     The Panel felt it was appropriate to apply a 6% percentage increase to the Basic Allowance and SRAs taking into account the staff pay award. However, based on a majority decision, Panel members felt that the SRA’s for the Leader of the Council and for Cabinet Members should remain unchanged.  In reaching this decision, members of the Panel studied in detail the comparative data on allowances for all county councils in England. This data revealed that the allowances for the Leader of Council and Cabinet Members, in Gloucestershire, were near the median figure. The Panel felt there was little room to award any increase in those SRAs. Consequently, the Panel recommended no changes in allowances for the Leader of Council or Cabinet Members.

 

 

5.4     One member suggested that councillors would have been reluctant to meet as they felt that there was an agreement for all members’ allowances to match the staff increase in pay.  In response Mr Blamey explained that the Panel would always make a recommendation in line with the conversations they’d had with members and the comparative data they received.

 

5.5     There was a discussion around the use of the median figure to determine how the allowances matched up to other Councils. Members requested that they see the data behind the recommendations being made. One member wanted to understand why the median had been given priority over the mean in the Panel’s thinking.

 

5.6     A further point was made recognising that as the IRP could not predict how Councils were going to change their allowances in 2024, it was difficult to understand the implications of increasing or freezing allowances.

 

5.7     Some Members commented that higher levels of inflation needed to be taken into account when deciding on an amount. They felt that the recommendations as they stood could lead to a ‘lag’ behind other councils who would have adjusted their Special Responsibility Allowances for the Leader and Cabinet Member to match inflation. There would be a degree of ‘catch up’ required in future years.

 

5.8     It was recognised that the IRP recommendations had been made on a majority decision.

 

5.9     It was agreed that the Constitution Committee would defer their consideration of the IRP recommendations until they had received more clarification over the data that had been considered by the Panel. It was felt that this was important for transparency as the recommendations were inconsistent to previous years.

 

5.10    The Committee requested that the IRP reconvene to confirm the data that had been used to make the recommendations, as well as to reflect on the comments raised by Constitution Committee members

 

5.11    A Constitution Committee meeting would need to be arranged prior to full Council on 21 February 2024  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Protocol on Informing Local Members pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To consider the attached draft Protocol and approve if appropriate.

Minutes:

6.1     Gillian Parkinson introduced the protocol and provided details of comments that had come in from members since the publication of the report:

 

This would lead to an amendment – a new paragraph 22 and 23.  “Where the information being shared is sensitive, confidential or subject to an embargo, the communication should make that clear”

 

In addition a  sentence added to para 21.  “Emails should be addressed to the member concerned and have a subject line that makes the topic and its relevance to the member clear.”

 

 

6.2     The committee considered the report which provided clarity and ensured a consistent approach to communications.

 

6.3     One member commented on the need to change the terminology from ‘ward’ to ‘division’ in some areas of the protocol.

 

6.4     At Appendix 1, one member felt that the only thing missing from the examples in the report was communication around felling and maintenance of trees on the highway.  The Chair noted that the first part of Appendix 1 referred to 'planned or programmed highways works (in advance)’ and ‘significant highways emergency works (as they arise), which may include issues around works to trees.

 

6.5     One member highlighted the importance of good communication with members and the contrasting approaches of officers from excellent practice to bad practice which had led to frustration.

 

6.6     A member gave an example of matters that were on the boundaries of multiple divisions and felt that the restriction of three divisions in the protocol as being classified as a local issue was too prescriptive. Members agreed that the principle was fine and there had to be a degree of interpretation around that point.  It was suggested to change it to ‘usually no more than three divisions’

 

6.7     There was a typo identified in paragraph 3 where it should read ‘a member’.

 

6.8     There was a question raised as to whether point 14 was needed in the protocol.

 

6.7     The protocol was agreed subject to the amendments suggested. It would be redrafted and circulated for agreement by email.

 

7.

Monitoring Officer changes pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To note the attached report:

 

1.    Changes to the Scheme of Delegation within the Council’s Constitution

Minutes:

Members noted the changes as detailed in the report.

 

It was clarified that Cabinet had been consulted prior to the change which had occurred earlier in 2023.

 

Clarification was sought about which Cabinet Member now had accountability for the Civil Protection function.