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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/10/2005
Constitution Review



Summary & Purpose
This report sets out detailed proposals for changes by the Constitution Special Interest Group to Council Procedure Rules and the work carried out by the SIG.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A


APPENDIX O
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

CONSTITUTION SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP

EXECUTIVE– 11TH OCTOBER 2005

Title:
CONSTITUTION REVIEW

[Wards Affected: N/A]

Summary and purpose:

This report sets out detailed proposals for changes by the Constitution Special Interest Group to Council Procedure Rules and the work carried out by the SIG.

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

E-Government implications:

There are no direct E-Government implications arising from the report.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no direct resource implications arising from the report.

Background

1. At its meetings on 15th July, the Constitution Special Interest Group considered the "Black Book", which contains areas raised by Members and Officers on Waverley's Constitution. The SIG considered the points made. At its subsequent meetings on 9th September and 28th September the SIG carried out detailed work on procedural changes and drew conclusions to be passed to the Executive for consideration.

2. The SIG also considered the Notice of Motion by Mr P D Harmer to the Council meeting on 19th July 2005. In accordance with Procedure Rule 12.3 this motion was referred to the Executive for consideration. The Executive agreed at its meeting on 6th September 2005 to defer consideration of the notice of motion to allow the Constitution Special Group to give consideration to this matter.

Notice of Motion

3. In accordance with Procedure Rule 12.1, the following notice of motion was moved by Mr P D Harmer, and seconded, at the Council Meeting on 19th July 2005:-

“In order to clarify the procedure of the Council, and to ensure that the Council’s procedure conforms to both the spirit and the letter of the Local Government Acts, to modify the Council’s Constitution, Rules of Procedure and Articles as follows:-

In Part 1, “Summary and Explanation”, on Page 2, in the section “How the Council operates”, in the fifth paragraph commencing “The Council is empowered ….”, in the sub-paragraph labelled “Part II and Part III, to add:-

"Any information which is included in such statement or question and which has not previously been formally presented to the Council shall be the subject of a report to the next meeting of the Executive or, where appropriate, the relevant Regulatory Committee.

Members of the Executive may not normally bring forward new information under this procedure. In emergency, the Chairman of the meeting may permit a member of the Executive to bring forward new information under this procedure, but that new information shall then be subjected to debate as though it had been a Part I item.

Amendment to Procedure Rules

Statements/ Questions on Part II and Part III of Executive or Committee Reports

4. The SIG carried out detailed work on the Council's procedure rules. The SIG considered as a whole the concerns raised in the "Black Book" and the issues raised by Mr Harmer's Notice of Motion and agreed to the insertion of a new Council Procedure Rule 14.14, to read as follows:-

"14.14 Statements/Questions on Part II and Part III of Executive or Committee Reports

Photography, video audio or recording meetings

5. It had been raised in the "Black Book" that members of the public use of Photography, video or audio recording of meetings needed control. It was agreed by the SIG to the insertion of a new Council Procedure Rule 23.3 to read as follows:-

"23.3 Photography, video audio or recording meetings

Members presenting documents or photographs when they speak

6. Members presenting documents at meetings had been highlighted in the Black Book as an area to be looked at further. The SIG agreed to the insertion of the following wording to Council Procedure Rule 24; Rights of Councillors to attend Committee and Sub-Committee meetings; (new Council Procedure Rule 24 was agreed at the Council meeting on 19th July 2005)
Mayoralty - Process for nominating Mayor and Deputy

7. a) Background
b) No overall control

The move to no overall political control poses challenges to the above convention. Logically the larger political group could nominate the Mayor, and last year an undertaking was reached where this happened subject to the larger opposition group nominating the Deputy. This however led to an element of uncertainty and the matter was not finally settled until just before the Annual meeting. This made planning the Mayor's diary more problematic, and the uncertainty at the Annual Council Meeting might have detracted from the occasion for the incoming Mayor and Deputy. The SIG has looked at a range of possibilities and reviewed practice across other Surrey Boroughs and Districts. There is a variety of more or less complex devices to arrive at a nomination for Mayor and Deputy, none of which can completely rule out the uncertainty resulting from no overall political control. None of the devices would cover a change after the full Borough election.

c) SIG proposal

The SIG suggests an alternative approach where in effect the Annual Meeting of the Council where the formal election of Mayor and Deputy, the Executive and Committees is separate from the formal Mayor making reception. The SIG proposes holding this meeting at the same time in the cycle as now, with a Mayoral and Civic Reception around two weeks later. This could be used as a way of involving a broader cross section of people who have served the community in Waverley.

Other matters

8. The Constitution Special Interest Group has also been working on and considering a number of other matters including the following:-

Informal Question Time

9. The SIG looked at the proposal by Mr R J Gates to streamline informal question time to include informal question time as in effect the first agenda item and either to begin the meetings proper at 6.45 p.m. or continue to start at 7.00 p.m. and if there are no members of the public wanting to ask informal questions the meeting proper to start immediately.

10. Following Members consultation with their groups it was agreed that the present system should be maintained.

Questions to Portfolio Holders at Council Meetings

11. The Executive discussed a proposal where Portfolio Holders could be asked informal questions by members of the public or other Members before the formal Executive report is presented to Council. Officers are aware that some Councils have this facility. The SIG agreed that this matter should not be considered at this present time.

Format of Reports

12. Members highlighted that the existing report structure with the Quality of Life Implications Boxes was not being utilised by report writers adequately. It was agreed that an alternative format should be used such as a bullet point format. It was also agreed that Equality and Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act should also be considered as part of the implications. Officers drafted a new report format in a bullet point format and additional guidance notes. This will be circulated to Members shortly and briefings will also be arranged. Format of reports to Council

13. At present, Executive reports to Council and the minutes of Executive meetings are produced as two separate documents. This is labour intensive. The SIG investigated alternative Executive reports and minutes of Executive meetings produced by neighbouring authorities where these are produced as a single document. Officers will be working on producing an example document which will be considered by the SIG at a future meeting.

Decision Making Leaflet

14. It was highlighted that Members of the public should be made aware of the rules of procedure and how to get involved in the decision making process. A "How to Have your Say " fact sheet has now been produced and will be made available to the public in due course.

Executive Agenda Overload/ Delegation

15. The SIG recognised that this was an issue but agreed that consideration of this matter should be deferred pending decisions on housing stock transfer. It was agreed that meetings with the Chairman should continue and their more "weighty" items should be featured earlier in the agenda.

New Planning Decision Making Structure

16. The SIG has been looking at the constitutional implications of the new Development Control Committee structure which has been considered by the Modernising Planning Special Interest Group. The findings of the SIG on the matters involved are reported elsewhere on the agenda.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. the changes to Council Procedure Rules as detailed above be agreed and that the Executive recommend the Council to amend the Constitution accordingly;

2. the Executive recommends to the Council on the proposed arrangements for Mayor-making; and

3. the work being carried out by the Constitution Special Interest Group be noted.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2005-06/128