To consider the attached report.
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 or suitability.
7.13 Through discussions it was noted that there might be some teething issues on implementation and therefore, it would be sensible to have a six month bedding in period to understand any implications. Members requested that this was added as a recommendation.
ACTION: DEMOCRATIC SERVICES
RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO THE COUNCIL that the proposed amendment outlined in Annex A, subject to the above amendments, be made to the Constitution.