Agenda item

Constitution Review (Agenda item 8)

Report of the Assistant Director for Finance & Democratic Services.


The Executive Member for Finance and Democratic Services presented the report.


The Constitution Working Group (CWG) was established in April 2013 with the membership including herself, Councillors Bowes and Jermy working with a CWG at South Holland to consider the review of both Constitutions.  This had been set against a background of change.  In 2008/09 there were approx 350 employees at Breckland, now the number was nearer 250.  Breckland also now had a shared Senior Management Team with South Holland and the recent Boundary Commission recommendations indicated that Breckland’s Elected Members would decrease from 54 to 49. 


With this in mind the CWG had reviewed the Committee Structure.  In order for changes to be made to the Committee Structure it would be necessary to align the delegations section of the Constitution as well.  However, at this stage the CWG presented this outline for the consideration of Overview and Scrutiny Commission.


Councillor Bambridge mentioned the new Licensing arrangements and felt that the skills that had already been embedded in Members needed to remain; he highlighted an appeal that had been upheld by a decision made by the Licensing Sub-Committee.  The Democratic Services Team Leader advised that there was a statutory requirement to keep matters relating to the Licensing Act 2003 and the Gambling Act 2005 separate from the remainder of the Licensing functions.    However, the idea was to have the same membership on both committees and as was the case in a large number of authorities there was nothing to preclude the Regulatory and Licensing Committees meeting on the same day running sequentially.  The set up of what would sit underneath Licensing such as the Appeals Panel, currently the Appeals Committee, was explained.  Councillor Bambridge said that he would like to have further discussions with the Democratic Services Team Leader on this matter.


Councillor Gilbert drew the Committee’s attention to page 61 of the agenda that mentioned the Member Development Panel under section 1.20 of the report.  He was very pleased that it had been given more providence and he felt that the Membership as a Panel was very strong and it encouraged more Members to take up training.  The Executive Member for Community and Environmental Services concurred with the aforementioned comments and reminded the Committee that the Member Development Panel had been recognised as a committee as part of Charter Plus; and, she highlighted the fact that there were few councils in Norfolk who had this accolade.


The Vice-Chairman said that the amount of work involved in this review should not be underestimated and he had been pleased that so many people had been keen to be involved in the discussions.  However, he would much rather have fewer meetings with more healthy democratic involvement rather than the current level of meetings where business was just churned through and not really needed.


Councillor Bambridge supported the comments made by Councillor Gilbert and the Executive Member for Community and Environmental Services.  He said that he had served on the EELGA for many years and the reputation that Breckland had for Member training went beyond this District.  He was really pleased that the Member Development Panel was going to be retained and felt that it should, in fact, be strengthened.  He did believe, however, that the Member Trainer should be a member of the Democratic Services Team and not from Personnel.

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