Agenda item

Constitution Review (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Executive Manager Governance.

Minutes:

The Executive Member Governance presented the report on the final draft Constitution.  The substantive changes had been highlighted in yellow and/or were referred to in the covering report.  He paid tribute to the amount of work done by the Officers and the Members of the Working Group.

 

The Executive Manager Governance drew attention to the key changes.  He reminded Members that the review had commenced in April 2013 and the intention had been to structurally align the Constitution with South Holland’s.  This would enable easier navigation for Shared Managers, whilst retaining each Council’s separate rules.


The base document was based on a model (Exari) prepared by the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors, so was robust.  The Exari model had been first presented to Scrutiny in 2014 and amendments incorporated.  Since then there had been changes to the law, to portfolios and to the Management Structure.  It had been identified that Access to Information Rules were missing and this had been addressed.  The final document was less than 200 pages and about 58,000 words.  An abridged version would be prepared when the Constitution was approved, for easy access for Members and Officers.


There had been 30 substantive changes and he drew attention to a number of key amendments:

 

·        Officer Delegations – some key provisions had been included to allow the Monitoring Officer to amend delegations for staffing and statutory changes and Senior Officers were allowed to exercise each others delegations unless otherwise instructed.

·        Standing Order No 5 – Questions without notice had been added

·        Standing Order No 5 – it was proposed to add a point to enable the Chairman of Council to accept a new item of business at their discretion.

·        Standing Orders 25 and 26 had been slightly amended on legal advice

·        Standing Order No 39 – quorum of Cabinet to be 3 or half the total number, whichever is greater

·        Standing Order No 42 – gave freedom for the Chairman to allow members of the public to speak – unless there were already alternative arrangements, such as for Planning Committee

·        On page 144 the requirement to refer each virement to Cabinet had been removed

·        Pages 160-161 – Contract Procedure Rules had been amended in accordance with new regulations and the Council’s vision.

 

Councillor S Chapman-Allen asked who the Chief Officers were and he was advised that it was a legal definition referring to anyone that reported directly to the Chief Executive.  He also asked whether the delegations on pages 95 and 96 meant those matters would no longer be determined by the General Purposes Committee.  He was advised that the General Purposes Committee Terms of Reference for dealing with staffing issues remained the same and the Executive Manager Governance would clarify how the two delegations inter related after the meeting.

 

The Chairman asked about the proposed amendment to Standing Order No 5 to allow additional matters to be discussed at the Chairman’s discretion.  If that was done, some interested parties might not be aware and decisions could be made without the full facts.

 

The Executive Manager Governance explained that any such matters would be exceptional requiring an urgent decision.  The Chairman pointed out that most agendas had an ‘Urgent Business’ standing item. 

 

The Council Agenda (unlike other Agendas) did not presently have an item for other or urgent business.  The Monitoring Officer suggested that the wording be changed to say Urgent Business rather than other business.

 

RESOLVED to RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL that:

 

(1)   The draft Constitution, at Appendix A to the report, be recommended for adoption subject to the Monitoring Officer’s suggested amendment to Standing Order No 5 and to the clarification of the inter-relationship of General Purposes Committee and Chief Officer delegations regarding staffing issues; and

(2)   an abridged version of the adopted Constitution be prepared by officers and circulated to members and relevant officers.

 

Supporting documents: