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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 23/01/2006
Review of Representation on Outside Bodies



APPENDIX G
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

CORPORATE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 23RD JANUARY 2006
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Title:
[Wards Affected: All]
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Summary and purpose:

The Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee initiated a review of the representation the Council has on outside bodies where Council nominees are appointed. The purpose of the review was to examine current practice and to recommend ways to improve it where appropriate. This report advises of the findings of a survey undertaken amongst Waverley representatives and outside bodies. It suggests that the Council could consider adopting a more strategic approach to representation on outside bodies, whilst encouraging ward councillors in their community partnership and leadership role to make local arrangements with organisations in their wards. It is proposed that the activities of formally appointed Council representatives should provide an annual report and that a ‘role description’ for Waverley representatives be devised.
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Quality of life implications

Outside bodies include voluntary sector organisations that make a large contribution to the quality of life in Waverley.

E-Government implications:

It is suggested that there should be a web page on the Council’s website to assist local organisations to understand the role of councillors on outside organisations.

Resource and legal implications:

There are limited resource implications arising from this report.
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Introduction

1. Over many years the Council has appointed member and non-member representatives to “outside bodies” when requested and the current list is detailed at Annexe 1.

2. Members asked for a review of outside bodies because it has become increasingly apparent that:
many of these arrangements were historic and in many cases the rationale for Waverley’s involvement had been lost;
there had been governance changes in respect of a number of charities;
that both members and outside bodies needed clarity as to the role of the Council’s nominee; and
there is no formal reporting back mechanism to Waverley.

3. During 2005, in order to assist with the review, a questionnaire was sent to all representatives serving on outside bodies and to outside bodies themselves. This provided useful information by way of background for the review and is set out at Annexe 2.

Background and findings of the survey

Appointments

4. The Council currently has formal representation on ninety outside bodies. Generally speaking Councillors are appointed to outside bodies but at present there are five non-Councillor representatives nominated to represent Waverley.

5. Appointments are generally made on an annual basis amongst members and ratified by Council, although there are six organisations where appointments are for a longer period. This means, on occasion, that a member who has been appointed to an outside body may cease to be a Councillor, yet remains the Council’s appointee.

Selection of Outside Bodies

6. For the most part, the Council has reacted to requests for representation on outside bodies as opposed to taking a strategic approach to managing these relationships.

7. We know that there are over 600 voluntary organisations working in and across the Borough and most of these do not have formal Waverley representation. Thus, the current arrangements suggest an inconsistency of approach to the representation of organisations within the Borough. It may be that in restricting links with outside bodies to the current formal appointments actually represents a lost opportunity for Councillors to demonstrate civic leadership across a broader range and type of organisation, and so to develop further-reaching partnership.
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The Role of the Council’s representative

8. It is clear that outside bodies have varying expectations of the role of the councils’ representatives. Some expect Waverley’s representatives to become Trustees/Board members/management committee members, roles that potentially carry significant responsibilities and liabilities. Other organisations expect Waverley’s representatives to be a conduit for advice and information or to remain an observer of proceedings.

9. It is important that the Council and its representatives on outside bodies are clear about their role on an outside body because of the issues surrounding the responsibilities and liabilities of those who act as Trustees or Directors of outside bodies, the ways in which this can affect their declaration of interests at Council meetings and the matter of Trustee Indemnity Insurance. Officers will report further on this matter.

Currency and feedback

10. For many of the smaller outside bodies there tends to be a turnover in the posts of Chairman/Secretary and consequently it can be difficult to keep track of contact details and other administrative arrangements. Indeed some representatives on outside bodies can receive agendas and committee dates sporadically or long after their appointment has ceased. Conversely there are occasional examples of organisations expecting attendance that never takes place. What has emerged from the review is that there are examples of real excellence in performance and areas where it is a little less efficient.

11. There is currently no formal mechanism for representatives on outside bodies to report back to the Council on the work of the organisations and whilst this remains the case, it is difficult to see how information can be kept current and effective.

12. What is clear is that for the most part, outside bodies appreciate the links they have with Waverley and spoke of the valuable contributions made by Waverley representatives to their business. Many stated that a key benefit of their link with Waverley is to improve their prospects of attracting funding into the future. What is less clear is what the best form support from Waverley should take. For example some outside bodies have formal representation as appointed by the Council and are also supported by officers of the council through their day-to-day work, perhaps leading to a duplication of effort. Furthermore, it is suggested that it is entirely possible for the Council to ‘support’ an organisation without having formal member representation on its governing body.

Conclusions

13. It is clear that the Council’s approach to managing its links with Outside Bodies could benefit from being regularised and a more strategic approach adopted along with formal arrangements for reporting back. It is therefore suggested that members might provide some guidance on the following questions: -


1. Should Councillors continue with decision-making/Trustee roles or confine their activities to observation only? 2. If a classification of outside bodies is adopted, how should this be drawn up? 3. A ‘Role Outline’ could help to manage the expectations of Outside Bodies and also clarify what is expected of Councillors in their representative capacity. If this is developed, how far should this go in determining responsibilities? 4. Regular feedback about Outside Bodies is essential in maintaining effective and well-managed relationships with them. A simple form could really help to keep information current, such as the example at Annexe 4; 5. An annual report produced by representatives could be an effective way of passing information to the electorate about the activities of members in this capacity. What sort of information should be published about the Outside Bodies and the representative’s activities? 6. Should the current appointments/management procedure be revised in order to formalise what happens when decisions are needed between appointments? How often should appointments be made? 7. Should a more informal and inclusive approach be encouraged, whereby Ward Councillors can exercise their ‘community leadership’ role with voluntary bodies in their area and where organisations are encouraged to simply invite their local councillor to meetings, rather than wait for the Council to formally appoint a representative? Thus local community groups could be encouraged to contact their Ward Councillors direct, rather than seek formal representation from Waverley unless they meet the criteria at Annexe 3. The complimentary role of Town and Parish Council’s could also be considered. 8. consider how best to rationalise the current list of organisations.

Recommendations

In the light of answers to the above questions it is recommended that

1. the survey of Outside Bodies be noted; 2. a system of classification against which the Council can select and prioritise organisations to receive formal representation from a Waverley appointed Councillor or representative be established (Annexe 3); 3. ward members maintain links with local Outside Bodies and also encourage representation amongst Town and Parish Councils; 4. a clear role description be developed that could assist both outside bodies and Waverley representatives to understand their respective roles and to manage expectations; 5. a system of annual reporting by Representatives be initiated. Firstly a brief pro-forma confirming key information about the Outside Body to be completed and returned to ensure the council holds up to date information, see Annexe 4 and secondly, a short annual report on the activity of the representatives activities regarding the outside to be introduced for publication on the Waverley website. The process to be overseen by Committee Services; 6. appointments to outside bodies to be made on a bi-annual rather than an annual basis in order to ensure a level of consistency of representation and reduce the work associated with appointments, such a system to begin in 2007, (and all of the appointments made in 2005 should run to 2007), except for where a member wishes to resign as a Waverley nominee; and 7. the current list of ninety outside bodies be rationalised to meet the new criteria/classification, an example list to work from is included at Annexe 5.
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Background Papers (CEx)

A spreadsheet summary of responses is available as a background paper (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: M McGowan Telephone: 01483 523226
E-mail: mmcgowan@waverley.gov.uk

comms/o&s1/2005-06/041