Venue: Committee Room 1, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming
Contact: Ema Dearsley Democratic Services Officer
To confirm the minutes of the meeting which took place on 6 June 2017.
The minutes of the meeting of the Standards Panel which took place on 6 June 2017 were confirmed and signed.
Apologies for absence
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for Absence were received from Councillors Stephen Hill and Carole Cockburn.
Disclosures of Interest
To receive any disclosures of interest.
Councillor Mike Band declared a non-pecuniary interest in the item on the agenda as he was a Member of the Audit Committee which was being considered in the report.
PART I - RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COUNCIL
Unless specified under an individual item, there are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to the reports in Part I of these minutes.
The purpose of this report is to seek the Standard Panel’s views on some further revisions to the Constitution based on areas where further work was requested at its last meeting which relate to a number of issues around the appointment of substitute members. Since the last meeting, the Standards Panel is also requested to consider the size of the Audit Committee.
It is recommended that the Standards Panel
1. agrees an appropriate deadline for the appointment of substitute members to a Committee or Sub-Committee;
2. considers the revised wording of the Substitution Rules set out in Annexe 1;
3. determines the best option for the way forward for the membership of the Audit Committee, as set out in paragraph 13 of the report; and
4. makes the appropriate recommendations to the Council for amending the constitution.
8.1 The Panel was reminded that, at its last meeting, Members had reviewed the Scheme of Delegation and revisions to the constitution. At that meeting, it was recommended that further work be undertaken on the following three areas:
1. The deadlines for giving apologies for meetings and calling substitutes
2. The application of political proportionality rules for committee members and substitutes at quasi-judicial meetings; and
3. The formatting/numbering of substitution rules in the Constitution.
8.2 The Panel received a report detailing proposals for the above areas. They were also asked to review the size of the Audit Committee because it only consisted of 7 members and as it did not allow for substitutes, occasionally it had been close to being inquorate. The Panel was also asked to consider revisions to the Overview and Scrutiny Informal Working Group protocol, a copy of which was tabled at the meeting.
8.3 The Panel first considered the deadlines for giving apologies for meetings and calling substitutes. This was particularly pertinent to Joint Planning Committees and other regulatory meetings where reports were detailed and lengthy, and site visits took place. It was important that substitutes were called with sufficient time to read the reports and attend the site visits. The current policy was that Members needed to call by 12noon on the day of the meeting and a member of the Democratic Services Team would try to arrange for a substitute to be arranged.
8.4 The Panel agreed that this was not sufficient notice and should be changed. It was recommended that a Member should give a minimum of 4 clear working days notice if they could not attend a meeting in order to enable substitutes to be arranged, if applicable (i.e. if the meeting was on a Wednesday, the apologies should be received by the end of the Wednesday before this). After this time, late apologies could still be given as it was inevitable that an urgent matter might arise or because of illness but a substitute would not be called. It was agreed that an example should be included within the constitution of how and when apologies should be given, and that on agendas, the exact deadline for giving apologies to enable a substitute to be arranged, would be stated.
8.5 The Panel also considered the timing of site visits and suggested that these take place 1 clear working day before a meeting (i.e. the Monday if the meeting was on a Wednesday) which would allow the Members, including any substitutes, to have read the agenda report and enough time for officers to look into any matters raised during the visit.
8.6 During discussion, Members expressed their frustrations with Joint Planning Committee meetings being rearranged or cancelled at short notice. They expressed a preference for them to take place on a regular evening, preferably, on a Wednesday, as this had become the evening that was always generally used for all planning meetings. Members were advised that there had recently been a high ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
PART II - MATTERS OF REPORT
There were no matters for consideration in Part II.