Amendments to Constitution
Meeting: 07/12/2017 - Council (Item 180)
Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director Strategy & Governance and the Monitoring Officer for Breckland Council.
The Executive Member for Governance presented the report that asked Members to consider and approve a number of amendments to the Constitution.
1) the amendments detailed in Appendices A to F of the report be approved and the Constitution be amended accordingly; and
2) the membership of the Governance and Audit Committee at Part 3 Section D1 (Delegations to Committees), which currently referred to "6 members and 2 substitutes politically balanced", be amended to read "6 non-Cabinet members and 2 substitutes politically balanced".
Meeting: 28/11/2017 - Cabinet (Item 128)
Report of the Executive Director for Strategy & Governance (Monitoring Officer).
The Executive Manager for Governance presented the report.
The report set out a number of proposed amendments to the Constitution which had been supported by the Overview & Scrutiny Commission at its meeting on 2 November 2017.
The amendments had been proposed in order to provide clarity within the Constitution, ensure consistency, and eliminate errors.
· To agree each proposed amendment
· To disagree each proposed amendment
· To require alternative amendments
RECOMMEND to Council that:
1. the amendments as detailed in Appendices A to F of the report be approved and the Constitution be amended accordingly; and
2. membership of the Governance & Audit Committee at Part 3, Section D1 (Delegations to Committees), which currently refers to “6 Members and 2 substitutes politically balanced” be amended to read “6 non-Cabinet Members and 2 substitutes politically balanced.”
Report of the Executive Manager for Governance, amended following comments received at the last meeting.
The Executive Manager Governance, presented the report which provided additional information as requested at the last meeting.
Two minor amendments to the Constitution were explained. The two more significant changes were:
· Excluding Call-in. It was noted that this had only happened once in the last five years. When it was required it was done in an open and transparent way and reported to the next meeting of the Council. To ensure Scrutiny engagement wherever possible it was proposed to introduce pre-decision scrutiny.
Councillor Dimoglou asked why an Officer could approve the exclusion in urgent cases.
Statute required the Constitution to have a provision to exclude key decisions in certain circumstances and in those cases an officer could make that decision. Despite that provision, in actual fact the Chairman of the Commission was always consulted.
Councillor Oliver asked whether Devolution had been a key decision. It was confirmed that it had been but the exclusion provision could not be used in that case because the decision had been on the Forward Plan for more than 28 days. The Chairman waiver had been used on that occasion.
Councillor Oliver therefore considered that no amendment was needed. However, the Executive Manager said that it was always preferable to have something in the Constitution to use in case of a challenge. At the moment there was no framework for a non-key decisions and the amendment would make it more open and transparent.
RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO CABINET that:
1) The amendments detailed in Appendices A to F of the report be approved and the Constitution be amended accordingly; and
2) Membership of the Governance and Audit Committee at Par 3 Section D1 (Delegations to Committees), which currently refers to “6 members and 2 substitutes politically balanced’ be amended to read 26 non-Cabinet members and 2 substitutes politically balanced”.
Report of the Executive Manager for Governance.
The Executive Member for Governance presented the report that asked Members to consider a number of amendments to the Constitution. The proposed amendments had been set out at section 2 of the report to add clarity to the Constitution.
The Chairman and a number of Members raised concerns about the proposed call-in procedure referred to in section (e) of the report. The Chairman had reservations about how it had been worded and Councillor Dimoglou felt that, if approved, the Cabinet/Executive could ‘railroad’ every decision made and recommended that for any urgent decision a Special Overview & Scrutiny Commission should be convened. Councillor Jermy agreed; the Council had to have checks and balances in place otherwise it could weaken the whole decision making process. The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Strategy, Governance & Transformation provided Members with an example of an urgent decision that had been made by the Leader and assured Members that these decisions were very few and far between and would not exclude the Commission from the process.
The Chairman felt that the wording needed to be changed slightly to protect the remaining Council Members. Councillor Wilkinson pointed out that the Constitution was a ‘living’ document and therefore could be amended accordingly.
Members had a number of concerns with the report and felt that it should be returned to the report author for further clarity and then brought back to a future meeting. The Chairman also wanted the report to consider the role of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and explore how to function as a Committee.
RESOLVED that the report be deferred until the next Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting for further clarity as mentioned above.