Agenda and minutes

Constitution Committee
Friday, 11th May, 2012 9.30 am

Venue: West Committee Room - Municipal Buildings, Earle Street, Crewe, CW1 2BJ. View directions

Contact: Paul Mountford  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any personal and/or prejudicial interests in any item on the agenda


There were no declarations of interest.


Public Speaking Time/Open Session

In accordance with Procedure Rules Nos.11 and 35 a period of 10 minutes is allocated for members of the public to address the meeting on any matter relevant to the work of the meeting. Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes but the Chairman or person presiding will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned where there are a number of speakers. Members of the public are not required to give notice to use this facility. However, as a matter of courtesy, a period of 24 hours’ notice is encouraged.


Members of the public wishing to ask a question at the meeting should provide at least three clear working days’ notice in writing and should include the question with that notice. This will enable an informed answer to be given.




There were no members of the public wishing to speak or ask a question.


Minutes of Previous meeting pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd March 2012.




That the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd March 2012 be approved as a correct record.


Delegated Powers Relating to Development Management pdf icon PDF 55 KB

To consider an addition to the functions of the Strategic Planning Board to enable the Board to consider applications for Certificates of Appropriate Alternative Development under Section 17 of the Land Compensation Act 1961.



The Committee considered an addition to the functions of the Strategic Planning Board to enable the Board to consider applications for certificates of appropriate alternative development under Section 17 of the Land Compensation Act 1961.


The Local Planning Authority was required to respond to an application for a certificate of appropriate alternative development by setting out what planning permission would have been granted if the land had not been compulsorily acquired. In the absence of a specific delegation to a committee, such applications would have to be dealt with by full Council. The Strategic Planning Board was considered to be the appropriate body to deal with such applications.




That Council be recommended to approve that the function of dealing with applications for Certificates of Appropriate Alternative Development under Section 17 of the Land Compensation Act 1961 be added to the functions delegated to the Strategic Planning Board, and the Board’s terms of reference within the Constitution be amended accordingly.



Community Governance Reviews pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Community Governance Review Sub-Committee in relation to the Crewe and Macclesfield Community Governance Reviews.


The minutes of the Sub-Committee’s meeting of 27th April 2012 are attached together with a report on the Crewe Community Governance Review which was considered at that meeting.

Additional documents:


1.      Crewe


At its meeting on 22nd March 2012, the Committee had recommended to Council that:


§         a Crewe Parish Council should be created;

§         there should be 16 members representing 6 wards mirroring the Borough Wards;

§         the electors from the unparished part of Leighton Borough Ward should be asked whether they would prefer to be included in the proposed parish of Crewe or the existing parish of Leighton; and

§         elections should take place as soon as practicably possible.


Council at its meeting on 19th April 2012 had deferred consideration of the recommendations of the Constitution Committee on the draft recommendation for the Crewe Community Governance Review in order that advice received from Counsel on some aspects of the Review could be taken into consideration.


The matter was considered further by the Community Governance Review Sub-Committee on 27th April 2012 in the light of advice received from Counsel which in summary was as follows:


1.      Any reorganisation order should take effect on 1st April in any year, including 1st April 2013. The Order should ideally be made by 15th October 2012 but no later than 39 days before the election.


2.      The Parish Council itself would not come into being until elections following the taking effect of the Order.


3.      There was no such legal entity as a “temporary parish council”.


4.      There was no power to set up a transitional body for a long period of time, exercising significant powers and taking decisions which would bind the new parish council.


5.      Combining parish council elections with Police and Crime Commissioner elections would seem to be administratively complex.


Having considered the advice of Counsel, the Sub-Committee confirmed its support for the original recommendations of the Constitution Committee to Council but asked that further consideration be given to budgetary and precepting arrangements and to the transitional arrangements for the period leading up to parish elections.


Since the Sub-Committee’s meeting, further advice had been sought and received from Counsel, which was briefly summarised as follows:


1.      Cheshire East Borough Council would calculate the budget for the new Parish Council, not a transitional body. The Council would specify a ceiling in respect of the sum which the Parish Council would receive.


2.      This sum would be identified in the Establishment Order.


3.      The new parish would come into effect from the date of the Order (1st April 2013).


4.      Elections could then be held as early as 4th April 2013.


5.      The Parish Council would fix its precept at some point prior to October 2013; this could not exceed the sum specified in the Order.


6.      The Council Tax payers of the unparished area of Crewe would then receive bills in respect of the Parish Council’s precept.


7.      Although any transitional body would have the task of “laying the ground” for a new Parish Council, as the new Parish Council could be elected on 4th April, there would be little point  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.


Proposed Council Governance Arrangements pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To consider proposed changes to the Council’s governance arrangements.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report on the work undertaken so far by the Joint Member Working Group appointed by Council to investigate the options available for new governance arrangements. The report proposed changes to the existing arrangements.


Council had appointed the Working Group to consider all available options to review governance arrangements under the Localism Act 2011.


The Joint Member Working Group had given thought to the options available and had concluded that neither a directly-elected Mayor nor a committee system would meet the needs of the Council. The Group had therefore worked on arrangements based on the existing leader and cabinet model but which would allow for greater involvement of non-executive Members in policy development and review.


The Committee had before it the minutes of the Working Group’s meeting on 20th April 2012, together with the Borough Solicitor’s report to the Working Group. These explored in detail a number of alternative governance options. A summary of the Working Group’s preferred option, Option B, was circulated at the Committee’s meeting as follows:


  • Leader and Cabinet
  • Up to 9 Portfolios
  • Cheshire East Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee
  • Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee
  • Cross-party “Policy Groups” aligned with Cabinet. These would:

§         be non-decision-making (ie would act in an advisory capacity)

§         operate in shadow form at an early stage

§         review and develop policy and advise upon significant service delivery issues

§         have access to financial and performance information

§         meet in private but with the option of meeting in public

§         call on Officers and Cabinet Members to attend

  • An announcement of the proposals to be made at the Annual Council meeting with the projected timeline being the end of the calendar year
  • Option C to be considered in due course


Members noted that Option C would provide for the Policy Groups to become full decision-making bodies. A move towards this could be considered in due course as further guidance was published and in the light of experience with the arrangements now proposed. Members were strongly of the view that the Council should eventually aim to move to Option C.




That Council be recommended to agree that


(1)   with effect from the end of a shadow period of operation, which shall end no earlier than September 2012, the existing Overview and Scrutiny Committees will be dissolved and be replaced with two Overview and Scrutiny Committees with the names and provisional terms of reference set out in Appendix 1 of the report;


(2)   with immediate effect Council establishes, initially in shadow form, up to nine Policy  Groups, aligned with the Cabinet, with the provisional terms of reference set out in Appendix 2 of the report;


(3)   the Leader will determine the size and cross party composition of the Policy Groups and invite the Political Groups to notify the Borough Solicitor of their nominations;


(4)   the consideration of the terms of reference of the two new Overview and Scrutiny Committees be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Chairmen in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.