Report Cabinet 1 of Councillor Matthew Lee (To follow)
The Leader proposed the recommendations in report number Cabinet 1; in so doing he stated that the changes he was suggesting would replace existing policy development arrangements with committees that were more holistic, looking at both budget and policy. The new committees would develop their own remits and be sufficiently dynamic to respond to emerging challenges. He explained that provision had been written into the arrangements that would permit any political group leader or deputy group leader to attend any overview and scrutiny committee meeting and have the right to speak or present reports. He felt that in respect of committee size, a smaller membership would help with focus and mean that the skills and expertise of their members would be used to best effect. The proposal was seconded.
Some concern was expressed about the timing of the report and a suggestion was made that, rather than immediately implementing new arrangements, it might be helpful to spend time reviewing existing arrangements. Further comments were also made about inclusivity and the representation of all political groups on the new committees.
An amendment was proposed and seconded, which left intact the first recommendation to change the name from Executive to Cabinet, but replaced the second and third recommendations with the following:
“This Council resolves to set up a working party made up of representatives of all political groups on the Council to carefully consider all options to improve the policy development and scrutiny of this Council.”
Members speaking in favour of the amendment echoed concerns about the speed with which the changes would be implemented and the potential for confusion as there was no pre-agreed remit for any of the new committees.
Some members questioned whether the new arrangements would create conflict because the same committee that helped develop a policy would be instrumental should a decision relating to that policy be called-in. Concerns were also expressed about representation for Grantham, noting that there was a Rural Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet members holding responsibility for engaging with town and parish councils, neither of which Grantham had. The Leader reiterated his previous remarks about opportunities for participation by all political groups.
One member requested that the remits for the overview and scrutiny committees, be presented to Council, to which the Leader agreed.
The Leader responded to the comments that had been made in support of the amendment, stating that the proposals would provide a proper engagement process that would help drive forward all policy development. He also spoke about opportunities for multiple committees to work together on overarching issues. In response to concerns raised by one Member about which Committee would take primacy in the event of a call-in, he explained that this would be determined by the Chairman of Chairmen for all overview and scrutiny committees. He also felt that any call-in would benefit from being considered by members who had been involved in the development of a policy; they would be aware of the background of an issue and the considerations of which a decision-maker should have taken account.
Prior to a vote on the amendment, the Monitoring Officer was asked to determine whether it was acceptable or whether it negated the original proposition. She stated that the amendment retained part of the original proposition and suggested that the remaining part be put to another body for consideration, therefore it complied with the requirements of the Constitution.
A vote was taken and the amendment was lost.
A further amendment was proposed: that each Overview and Scrutiny Committee consist of 7 members with a quorum of 4 and that all political group leaders or their appointed representatives have a right to attend and speak at any overview and scrutiny committee meetings.
16:34 to 16:55 – the meeting was adjourned to allow the calculation of political balance in light of the new committee size proposed by the amendment and the two resignations from the Conservative Group.
Following the adjournment, the amendment was withdrawn as an arrangement had been reached between the Conservative and Labour Groups. The Leader agreed to adjust his proposals to increase the membership of the overview and scrutiny committees to 7 with a quorum of 4 and, as the political balance calculation identified a tie between the Conservative Group and the Labour Group for the outstanding place, he agreed that it should be given to the Labour Group.He also clarified that the remit of each committee could be presented to Council once it had been agreed.
The proposals were put to the vote and carried.