Agenda and minutes

Constitution Committee - Monday, 16th December, 2019 10.30 am

Venue: Witham Room - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ

Contact: Lucy Bonshor 

Items
No. Item

13.

Membership

    The Committee to be notified of any substitute members.

    Minutes:

    The Committee were notified that Councillor Ray Wootten was substituting for Councillor Griffin.

14.

Apologies

    Minutes:

    An apology for absence was received from Councillor Fellows.

15.

Disclosure of interests

    Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.

    Minutes:

    None disclosed.

16.

Minutes of the meeting held on 9th September 2019 pdf icon PDF 189 KB

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2019 were noted subject to the following amendment:

     

    Page 5, third paragraph to read

     

    “A question was asked about how a Member not on Company’s Committee could ask a question about a company.  It was stated that individual Councillors would not have the right to ask a question of a company’s board directly, however they could approach the relevant Cabinet Member or Strategic Director responsible for that specific company.”

17.

Constitution Review Project Plan pdf icon PDF 195 KB

    Report from the Chairman of the Constitution Committee.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Before the report was presented, the Chairman read out the recommendations as written within the report.  One Member asked if, as with a previous review, external experts would be used.  The approach to the review would be no different to previous reviews, however, there was a lot of expert knowledge inhouse, including the new Scrutiny Officer and access to external legal advice if necessary.    For example if a radically different take on anything was proposed, then legal advice would be sought to make sure any proposal was robust.

     

    The Head of Governance briefly outlined the current position.  Members had agreed at a previous meeting to have ‘chapters’ with more structure to help Members navigate through the Constitution during a meeting.    It was clear that any new document needed to be easy to use, with no ambiguity.  An example was given in relation to the current Constitution and legislative definitions for Non-Key Decisions (NKD). The definition of two or more Wards was clear, however the second definition for significant income/expenditure and what was meant by significant was less clear as it could mean different things to different people.

     

    The Scheme of Delegation was another area which currently contained out of date information following the changes that had taken place in respect of the Council’s structure.

     

    The Planning Code of Good Practice was a helpful document for Members but again following the Localism Act this had not been updated and was not currently included within the Constitution.

     

    A question was asked in relation to the inclusion of the Local Plan within the Constitution.   That document was a Policy Framework document and did not form part of the Constitution in a similar way to the Gambling Statement of Principles which had recently been before Council.

     

    The content of the ‘chapters’ and timelines were shown as appendices to the report.  It was proposed to establish a working group for the life of the project with regular meetings which would feedback to the formal Committee.  The aim was to complete the review in six months with the final document being available in July 2020.  Some of the work would be quick wins with other work being done concurrently.  The Scheme of Delegation needed to address changes in legislation that had occurred together with more specific delegations to enable timely decisions to be made, such as taking remedial action to preserve heritage assets that had become unsafe.

     

    Members were asked if they supported the proposed timeline and the approach outlined in the report.    A question was asked about having a hard copy of the final document and whether the slides could be circulated to Members.

     

    Ø   Action Note

     

    Slides shown at the Committee to be circulated to Committee Members.

     

    One Member made reference to the Chairman’s role at the main Council meeting and how difficult it was, and that the support of Officers for advice was essential.  The Chairman of the Council, who was in attendance, added that she felt certain parts of the Constitution were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Close of Meeting

    Minutes:

    The meeting closed at 11:24am.