Agenda and minutes

Constitution Committee
Thursday, 30th November, 2017 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Suite 1,2 & 3, Westfields, Middlewich Road, Sandbach CW11 1HZ. View directions

Contact: Paul Mountford  Executive Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

9.

Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

10.

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 body in question.  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.

 

 

Minutes:

There were no members of the public wishing to speak.

11.

Minutes of Previous meeting pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 5th October 2017.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 5th October 2017 be approved as a correct record subject to an amendment to reflect the attendance of Councillor B Burkhill at the meeting.

12.

Minutes of the Constitution Sub-Committee pdf icon PDF 50 KB

To receive the minutes of the meetings of the Constitution Sub-Committee held on the following dates and to approve the recommendations contained within:

 

23rd August 2017

15th September 2017

29th September 2017

3rd November 2017

17th November 2017

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the following meetings of the Constitution Sub-Committee be received and the recommendations contained therein be approved:

 

23rd August 2017

15th September 2017

29th September 2017

3rd November 2017

17th November 2017

 

13.

Members Speaking

To provide an opportunity for visiting members to speak in relation to the review of the constitution.

Minutes:

Councillor J Bratherton queried the provision in the draft constitution relating to attendance by members at the meeting of a body of which they were not appointed members, and in particular the need for prior agreement by the Monitoring Officer and the Chairman where the meeting was considering private and confidential business. Bevan Brittan advised that this type of provision was included in many councils’ constitutions and had been agreed by the Constitution Sub-Committee. Councillor Hogben suggested that the wording of the provision could be amended to make it clear that members could attend any meeting during the consideration of Part 1 business. It was agreed that the officers in consultation with the Chairman would amend the wording as appropriate.

 

Councillor Bratherton also questioned the provision relating to Notices of Motion at Council meetings and felt that the proposer of the motion should have an opportunity to introduce it. The officers advised that it was appropriate for the proposer and seconder of the motion to speak on the motion at the meeting of the decision-making body to which the motion had been referred. This would enable a report on the matter to be prepared for that meeting and for an informed debate to take place.

 

Councillor R Fletcher sought an assurance that the new constitution would be appropriate for Cheshire East and would not simply reflect the practices adopted by other councils.  The officers responded that Bevan Brittan had a considerable amount of experience of reviewing the constitutions of councils across the country and were bringing that depth of knowledge and experience to this process.

 

Councillor Fletcher also felt that the constitution should provide that reserved matters for large planning applications should be referred to the relevant planning committee and not be decided by officers. The officers replied that the provisions in question had been in place for the last 2-3 years and appeared to be working well. 

 

Councillor S Pochin suggested that the standards procedure should be amended to provide that where a complaint was made against a member, there should be a right of appeal against the decision of the Monitoring Officer to allow the complaint to progress, or to decide to the contrary. It was suggested by Councillor Pochin that, in such circumstances, the Monitoring Officer would have a conflict of interest. Bevan Brittan responded that such a decision of the Monitoring Officer related to a preliminary stage of the process and that if a complaint were to proceed to a later stage there would be a facility for a member to have a full hearing. The Monitoring Officer had a statutory duty to determine the matter in consultation with the Independent Person and was independent of the Council’s leadership.

 

Councillor B Walmsley referred to that part of the Local Ward Member Protocol relating to the need to keep ward members informed. She suggested that it would be helpful if this included a hyperlink to the definition of the term ‘exempt information’ would give reassurance to Members.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Review of the Constitution pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To consider a report recommending the adoption of a revised constitution for Cheshire East Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered two reports recommending the approval and adoption of a revised constitution for Cheshire East Council.

 

The Council had undertaken a comprehensive review of the current constitution to ensure that it complied with all relevant statutory requirements, and had considered how its current processes and procedures should be altered to improve organisational efficiency and achieve good governance. The review had been guided by the seven key principles approved by the Committee at its meeting on 4th August 2017.

 

The Council had commissioned Bevan Brittan Solicitors to carry out a desktop review of the constitution and to assist in the drafting of a new constitution.

 

Details of the review and the way in which it had been conducted, including the extensive member consultation and engagement that had taken place, were set out in the report.

 

The report appended four documents:

 

Appendix A – A composite Explanatory Note of substantive issues which had been considered by the Constitution Sub-Committee, together with the Sub-Committee’s recommendation against each issue, which were reflected in the draft constitution. 

 

Appendix B – The draft Constitution

 

Appendix C – Those documents which formed part of the current constitution, but which the Constitution Sub-Committee had recommended should no longer be in the constitution, together with a summary front-sheet setting out information on the “ownership” of each document. 

 

Appendix D – A document on arrangements for dealing with standards complaints against members which, whilst not part of the current constitution or part of the proposed new draft Constitution, was required by law and would be referenced and hyperlinked from the revised Member Code of Conduct. 

 

On consideration of the table of financial limits set out in Appendix A.1, the officers advised that a number of the references would need to be corrected.

 

The Committee also considered a number of matters which if agreed would require the inclusion of additional documents in the constitution or amendments to it as follows:

 

Appendix E – The Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules. These had been the subject of discussion at the relevant working group but had been excluded from the papers presented to the Constitution Sub-Committee on 17 November 2017.

 

A colour-coded chart mapping out decision-making responsibilities. This would be completed on final approval of the revised constitution and incorporated into the document.

 

A hyperlink to guidance on the use of the Officer Decision Record (ODR) process.  This would be completed in the final drafting of the document.

 

Certain issues relating to the current draft provisions relating to the Staffing Committee terms of reference, the Investigation and Disciplinary Committee and the Employee Procedure Rules. These issues were not contained in the Explanatory Note of substantive issues when considered by the Constitution Sub-Committee and were not included in the Explanatory Note before the Committee (Appendix A). The Committee considered a separate explanatory note on these issues which included a response from Bevan Brittan and a recommended position in each case. It was suggested in particular that the composition of the Staffing Appeals  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Calendar of Meetings for 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To consider the draft Calendar of Meetings for Cheshire East Council for 2018-19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the draft calendar of meetings for 2018-19 and the outcome of the consultation thereon.

 

The proposed scheduling of meetings for 2018-19 followed the pattern adopted in previous years. 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the draft Calendar of Public Meetings for Cheshire East Council 2018 - 2019 be recommended to Council for approval.