Agenda item

Appointment of Independent Remuneration Panel (Agenda item 10)

Report of Rob Walker, Deputy Chief Executive & Monitoring Officer.


Rory Ringer, the Democratic Services Manager & Deputy Monitoring Officer presented the report.


The report recommended the appointment of an Independent Remuneration Panel for the period 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2026.


The names of the three suitable candidates were highlighted.


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor James, the Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services and was seconded by the Deputy Leader, Councillor Claussen.


Councillor Jermy felt disappointed that only 3 individuals in total had come forward and all were male, and all had served on the Panel before.  He found it difficult to believe that not one more person in Breckland had expressed an interest and felt that either the advert had not worked or there was not a single person in Breckland other than these 3 who had expressed an interest.  He was disappointed that Members were being asked to appoint a Panel for a 4-year term without any new opinions or ideas coming forward which the Council would receive by having new individuals and having a Panel that consisted of entirely male members was unfair as, in his opinion, gender balance was critical.  He then proposed an amendment to the recommendation which was to appoint the Panel in its current form, but to re-advertise to try and attract new members specifically female members to join the Panel.


The Leader thanked Councillor Jermy for his remarks. He was certain that Councillor Jermy did not mean that when Councillors were re-elected for a 4-year term, they did not bring along any new thinking and by re-appointing individuals to the IRP for a 4-year period were not by any means different to Councillors. The process was the process, and acknowledged that representation was immensely important, and it would be inappropriate to defer this for any longer as this was a statutory requirement and the appointments needed to be established so that the Panel could undertake this work ahead of the Elections in 2023.


In response, Councillor Jermy said that he was not clear on the urgency, as the existing scheme existed until May 2023. He drew attention to section 3.1 of the report where it stated: ‘to enable appropriate appointments to be made ahead of the next meeting of the IRP in early 2023’.   In his opinion, there was still plenty of time to re-advertise and hopefully recruit some new people and enable an IRP meeting to go ahead between now and May 2023.


The Leader stated that, these individuals had come forward and he respected and applauded them for willing to support local democracy and local councils.  There was other business to undertake, and it was not his place as an Elected Member to lead or influence the Democratic Services Manager or the Monitoring Officer as they had felt it to be appropriate to bring this report forward for work to be undertaken early in 2023.  He acknowledged Councillor Jermy’s concerns but was unsure if anyone else would apply if it went out for recruitment again. He looked forward to working with Councillor Jermy post 2023 if both successful in the Elections to make sure that when the next Panel was recruited, that they could work together and promote the advertisement so that anyone else who might be interested could apply. 


Councillor Atterwill asked where the advert had been advertised as he had not seen it and had not, as an Elected Member, been made aware of the advertisement. If he had been made aware, it could have been shared more widely to encourage a much wider group of candidates to come forward. He was concerned that this had been a very limited advertising process and although he had nothing against these individuals, as he was sure they were very good, but felt that the membership of the Panel should be rotated.


The Leader stated that all advertisements went through the normal HR process, and acknowledged Councillor Atterwill’s concerns, but the advert had been placed on the Breckland recruitment page and the business of this Council was to accept or reject the recommendation.


Councillor Atterwill said that he was not casting aspersions on the 3 successful applicants but in future he asked the Officers to let Members know where and when this advert would be advertised as it could be something that Members could help with going forward.


Councillor Jermy then proposed and read aloud his amendment to the recommendation which was seconded by Councillor Clarke: To accept the appointment of these 3 individuals but to re-advertise to seek additional Panel Members.


The Leader said that he was content with the recommendation as now presented by Councillor Jermy - that this Council would seek further members to the Panel but not stop the appointment of the current candidates but to go out for further recruitment to appoint further members if they were forthcoming.  The Leader thanked Councillor Jermy for his forbearance.


If this amended recommendation was approved, Councillor Monument asked for it to be made quite clear to the 3 members that had been appointed that this Council did have confidence in them and if readvertised, to limit the numbers to no more than 3.  A maximum of 6 in total on the Panel.


Councillor Atterwill felt that if the Council did readvertise and more candidates came forward it would make sense to have 5 members on the Panel for voting purposes but felt that it would be more appropriate to discuss numbers outside of this meeting.  He supported the amendment proposed, to advertise the role again to try and get the best people for the job no matter their gender.


The Leader stated that he wanted to propose an amendment to Councillor Jermy’s proposed amendment.  In accordance with the Constitution, this was not allowed as the amendment proposed by Councillor Jermy that had been seconded by Councillor Clarke had to be voted upon first.  Subsequently, the Leader stated that he could not support the amendment.


Councillor Jermy was asked to repeat his amendment to the recommendation – to accept the recommendation as stated in the report but to add an amendment to further advertise to recruit additional members up to a maximum of 6.


For clarity, Councillor Jermy’s amendment was confirmed – to accept the appointment of the 3 individuals but to readvertise and seek further members to the Panel.


A vote was then taken and the amendment to the recommendation was lost by 8 votes in favour and 30 against + I abstention.


The Leader proposed a further amendment to the recommendation as follows:

1.    that the Independent Remuneration Panel be re-established for the period 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2026, comprising the individuals as listed in the report - to be confirmed immediately.


2.    to readvertise again until 1 February 2023; and


3.     a maximum of 2 additional individuals be sought if further individuals were forthcoming:  


Councillor Jermy seconded the above proposal.


A vote was then taken which was carried - 36 votes in favour + I abstention, and it was:




1.    the Independent Remuneration Panel be re-established for the period 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2026, comprising the individuals as listed in the report - to be confirmed immediately.


2.    to readvertise again until 1 February 2023; and


3.     a maximum of 2 individuals be sought if further individuals were forthcoming:  


At this point, Councillor Birt drew attention to Standing Order 5.1(k) of the Constitution, the Order of Business, and reminded Members that he had not been allowed to raise questions under agenda item 9 and quoted the Standing Order.  He stated that he had raised this matter many times and had previously been informed that Members were allowed to ask questions under the Minutes.


The Chairman indicated that the question Councillor Birt had tried to raise earlier was not about the accuracy of the Minutes.

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