Venue: This meeting is in line with The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020
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A minute silence was held in memory of the late John Rogers, former Councillor and Chairman of the Council.
Councillor Bambridge paid tribute to John on behalf of Breckland Council.
Apologies (Agenda item 1)
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Brame, Gilbert, Kiddell, Terry and Wickerson.
Question raised by Councillor Birt
Councillor Birt had been having discussions with Mark Stinson, Executive Manager for Governance in respect of a number of issues one of which remained outstanding - the notice period for meetings. He pointed out that the notice period should be published 5 clear days before the meeting yet the final agenda for this meeting had only been published yesterday.
The Executive Manager for Governance reported that Councillor Birt was correct in respect of the notice period question regarding the 5 clear working days; however, the Local Government Act 1972 recognised that there would be occasions where the full 5 working days would not be possible. There were various exceptions but in this particular case, the report and the agenda had been published 5 clear days before the meeting and it was a revised agenda that had been published yesterday which included an additional document, the minutes from the Joint Appointments Committee.
The Executive Manager for Governance reminded Members to be careful as this meeting was considering an individual’s personal information. He appreciated that some of this information was already be in the public domain but the Council was still bound by data protection rules and if Members felt that any such matters should be discussed then the meeting should move into private session.
Councillor Atterwill agreed with Councillor Birt’s comments whilst also taking on board the response from the Executive Manager for Governance. The documents had been submitted very late for Councillors to consider and there was, as Councillor Birt had alluded to, a great deal of background information that many Members had been trying to read and digest at extremely short notice about this one candidate. He agreed that the meeting should go into a private session as there were certain matters pertaining to this candidate that he wished to raise and it would not be fair to the individual to discuss these matters in an open session.
In response, the Executive Manager for Governance advised that it was common practice of many authorities for a recommendation from a Committee to Full Council, to be on a back to back basis. This Council was being asked to consider a recommendation from a Committee that had already investigated a number of these issues and felt that it would be acceptable to hear from those Committee Members first. He also explained that he was not advocating for the meeting to go into private session but that the Council would need to do so if it wished to discuss personal information of the candidate.
The Chairman said that she would consider going into private session once the report had been presented.
Declaration of Interests (Agenda item 2)
The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011. Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.
Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director for Strategy & Governance and Monitoring Officer.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen presented the report.
The report set out a very clear recommendation from the Joint Appointments & Disciplinary Committee to appoint an interim Head of Paid Service (HoPS) covering both Breckland and South Holland District Councils.
The Leader thanked the Deputy Leader, Councillor Paul Claussen and Councillor Mike Brindle for attending the previous day’s Joint Committee meeting. A number of very robust questions had been asked and the candidate had given honest and candid responses that provided confidence to those Members which had been reflected in the unanimous decision by the six participants across both Councils.
Penna, a recruitment organisation, had supported the Council through this process and had found Breckland Council a suitable candidate for consideration. The Leader assured Members that this position was not the post of Chief Executive and would only be undertaking the statutory function of HoPS. The role would be on an interim basis for six months and for two days a week offering one day to Breckland and another to South Holland. This position would offer and create the much-needed extra capacity within both Councils and would act as a strategic advisor on future local authority models.
The role would not have any direct line management responsibility for staff at either Breckland or South Holland councils. The Place based teams led by the two Directors, Rob Walker, the Executive Director of Place and Maxine O’Mahony, the Executive Director for Strategy & Governance would continue both of whom had already attended many meetings and engagements previously undertaken by the Chief Executive.
The Leader highlighted the recommendations and suggested that the term of six months for the interim appointment be included in the decision, if approved.
The Chairman concurred with the Leader’s views and assured Members that under Standing Order No. 58, Section 58.2, there had been no material objections from either Cabinet or from individual Members of that Cabinet to this appointment.
Prior to any questions being asked on the Leader’s report, the Chairman highlighted the fact that if at any point the discussions turned to personal matters, advice would be sought from the Executive Manager for Governance and a resolution to go into private session would be requested.
Councillor Brindle said that it had been a pleasure to take part in the recent Joint Appointments & Disciplinary Committee. The candidate had presented himself very well, but he felt that it would help, given the comments that had been made earlier, if it could be made clear about the two different roles that were on offer. In his opinion, the candidate was an excellent choice for giving advice, but again felt that it would perhaps clarify and encourage Councillors if they heard again, the specific responsibilities under the title of the HoPS.
In response, the Executive Manager for Governance stated that the HoPS had a specific power in respect of staff employed by the local authority. For example, if any changes were to be made to the establishment then the HoPS ... view the full minutes text for item 74/20
Urgent Business (additonal item)
The Chairman advised Members of an item of urgent business.
The Chief Executive was the sole Proper Officer for the purposes of signing and issuing summons’ for meetings of the Full Council, Committees and Sub-Committees, and the appointment of a Proper Officer should be considered as a matter of urgency as the existing Chief Executive had left the authority and there were no other appointed Proper Officers.
Following a proposer and a seconder, it was
RESOLVED that the three existing Executive Directors (Place, Strategy & Governance and Commercialisation) be appointed as the Proper Officers for the purposes of signing and issuing summons’ under Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act 1972.