Agenda and minutes

Constitution Committee - Thursday 30 January 2020 11.30 am

Venue: Chairman's Room - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Will Windsor-Clive and Colin Hay.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 106 KB

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 14 October 2019 were confirmed and signed as a correct record by the Chair.

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 Thursday 23 January 2020.

Minutes:

No public questions had been received.

4.

Members' Questions

To answer any written members’ questions.  The closing date/time for the receipt of questions is 10.00am on 23 January 2020.

Minutes:

No member questions had been received.

5.

Motion 837 - Parental Leave for Councillors pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

5.1       Simon Harper, Head of Democratic Services, was invited to present the item.

 

5.2       The Committee was reminded that the item related to a motion that was passed by full Council in October 2019 and after consideration at the last Committee meeting, officers were asked to draft a policy that was as close as possible to the existing employee arrangements at Gloucestershire County Council.

 

5.3       Members noted that that the proposed policy needed to reflect the following:

·         Members were not employees of the Council;

·         they had no entitlement to statutory maternity pay; and

·         they had a legal duty under the Local Government Act 1972 to attend a meeting of the Council within a six month period unless Council agrees to an extended leave of absence prior to the expiration of that six month period.

5.4       It was pointed out that 2.1 and 2.3 of the report, which stated ‘by agreement with the relevant Group Leader’ would need to be amended to take account of the Group Leader being the member requesting the parental leave or councillors who did not have a Group Leader.

 

5.5       The suggested amendment was as follows:

 

2.1       Members giving birth are entitled to up to six months’ maternity leave from the due date, with the option to extend up to 52 weeks by agreement with the relevant Group Leader or, where a member is a Group Leader or is not a member of a political group, the Chair of Council in consultation with the Monitoring Officer.

 

2.3       A member who adopts a child through an approved adoption agency shall be entitled to take up to six months’ adoption leave from the date of placement, with the option to extend up to 52 weeks by agreement with the relevant Group Leader or, where a member is a Group Leader or is not a member of a political group, the Chair of Council in consultation with the Monitoring Officer.

 

5.6      A third amendment was requested as follows:

 

1.2       The objective of the policy is to ensure that members are able to take appropriate leave at the time of the child’sbirth or adoption, both parents are able to take leave, and that reasonable and adequate arrangements are in place to provide cover for portfolio-holders and others in receipt of Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) during any period of leave.

 

RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO THE COUNCIL to adopt the Parental Leave Policy for Councillors (section B of the report), subject to the amendments outlined above.

6.

Health and Wellbeing Board Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To consider a proposal from Cllr Iain Dobie to add the following additional paragraph to the Health and Wellbeing Board Terms of Reference (current version attached):

 

“The Health and Wellbeing Board is subject to democratic scrutiny by Council via the Health Scrutiny Committee, and the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee.

 

To properly consider increasingly integrated Health and Social Care systems, such scrutiny of the Health and Wellbeing Board should be done via a joint meeting of both the above committees on at least an annual basis. The timing of such a meeting to be agreed by the three chairs.”

Minutes:

6.1       The Chair invited Cllr Iain Dobie to address the Committee on this item.

 

6.2       The Committee heard that the development of the Health and Wellbeing Board was an important way of supporting an integrated approach. Its decisions had a large impact on the communities it served and it influenced a considerable amount of money through its decision making. In light of this, it was suggested that the Council should have appropriate democratic oversight in the form of scrutiny over the Board’s decision making.

 

6.3       Members were referred to a draft form of words on the Committee’s agenda and officers confirmed that this proposal would not be prevented by the Board’s legislative provisions.

 

6.4       The Chair believed that a sensible approach would be to request feedback from the Board and the relevant Scrutiny Committees on the principle and practicalities of this proposal before bringing it back to the Constitution Committee. It was noted that the Board also had membership from outside GCC. A member suggested that it might be worth researching arrangements at other county council’s in regard to this issue.

 

6.5       The Committee agreed this approach, with the added request that it be considered before the Annual Meeting of Full Council on 12 May 2020.

 

ACTION:       DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

7.

Criteria for submitting motions pdf icon PDF 201 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1       The Chair invited Rob Ayliffe, Monitoring Officer, to present this item.

 

7.2       The Committee were informed that the report outlined findings from other county council’s on their approach to submitting motions. The research showed that GCC’s existing approach was not out of kilter with others but it allowed a wider scope than some.

 

7.3       The report reflected three groupings of criteria for motions. Some councils injected officer advice into the process in preparation for the debate, some had a default position to refer all motions to their relevant body/scrutiny committee and others restricted the scope or subject matter of the motion.

 

7.4       As the original prosper of this item at the last Constitution Committee, the Chair invited Cllr Stowe to put forward his proposal. Members were given a print out of the proposed amendment to the existing Constitution shown in Annex A.

 

7.5       Cllr Stowe reminded members that the reason for this request was to encourage good decision making and educated debate at full Council. An example was given of a recent motion that recommended for GCC to plant one million trees by 2030. Whilst no one was disputing the importance of such a motion, it was given as an example of where a better understanding of the financial implications, and the Council’s ability to achieve this would have been beneficial to debate.

 

7.6       The suggested increase in the submission timeline was proposed to allow sufficient time for officers to produce their advisory notes. It was pointed out that even by increasing it to an eight day notice period, this was still well within the parameters of other councils’ submission deadlines.

 

7.7       It was highlighted that when Cabinet receive reports to make decisions, all such implications as suggested in this proposal would be commented on to allow the executive to make an informed decision.

 

7.8       Speaking in support of Cllr Stowe’s suggestion, a member welcomed the need for a better informed debate, and that members from across the Chamber would have access to the same information, putting everyone on the same footing.

 

7.9       Another member welcomed the proposal, especially in relation to the impact on climate change. They questioned whether this could be taken a step further and include a reference to the Council’s declared net zero CO2 emissions target.

 

7.10    In response, the Chair reiterated the proposals intention to be clear and simple, and acknowledged that by adding a reference to a specific climate change target, this may lead to other members requesting other policies to be specified as well. It was agreed as a compromise position that a final line would be added under the criteria as follows:

 

“Accordance with the Council’s agreed policy framework”.

 

7.11    This would therefore encompass all of the Council’s agreed strategies, rather than making reference to each individually.

 

7.12    It was highlighted that the information provided by officers would be a purely factual summary on the implications of the proposal within the motion. It would not indicate any opinions of its effectiveness  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Procedure for Motions without Notice pdf icon PDF 331 KB

To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

8.1       Rob Ayliffe, Monitoring Officer, reminded the Committee that this item was as a result of a request during a full Council meeting to make the process for motions without notice clearer in the Constitution.

 

8.2       The flow diagram being presented captured the current procedure included in the Constitution.

 

8.3       As the Constitution was silent on who should be selected to speak against a procedural motion, the Committee felt it would be clearer to state who it should be. The Chair believed that the fairest approach would be to provide the proposer of the original motion an opportunity to respond.

 

8.4       The Monitoring Officer was requested to draft a suitable form of words which could be ratified by full Council.

 

RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO THE COUNCIL that the changes to the

Constitution in respect of Motions without Notice be ratified, subject to the amended wording.

9.

Review of the Constitution

To receive a verbal update on the intended review of the Constitution and to suggest any additional areas for review.

Minutes:

9.1       Members were advised that officers intended to carry out an end to end review of the Constitution to make sure that it is up to date with legislation, check for any anomalies or contradictions and also update financial and contract procedures.

 

9.2       Any changes made would be brought back to this Committee for members to understand and approve before recommending ratification to Council.

 

9.3       It was requested for members to contact officers if they wished to suggest any particular sections for review.

 

9.4       The Chair requested that officers kept in mind throughout the review the desire to make the document simpler. For example, frustration was shared that every time the Leader, under their executive powers, made any change to Cabinet responsibilities, the Constitution needed updating which seemed very onerous.