Report of the Chief Executive.
The Leader summarised the changes that the Conservative group proposed to make to its committee memberships and chairmanships:
· Planning Committee – Councillor Chris Benn to come off the committee and the committee to carry a vacancy until the next meeting of Council
· Governance and Audit Committee, replacement of Councillor Chris Benn as vice-chairman with Councillor Paul Wood
· Employment Committee – Councillor Lee to be replaced by Councillor Dobson
· Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Councillor Chris Benn to replace Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew as Chairman and Councillor Manterfield to replace Councillor Chivers
· Chairman of overview and scrutiny committee chairmen – Councillor Graham Jeal
These nominations were seconded.
The Independent Group also wished to change its representative on the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, replacing Councillor Jan Hansen with Councillor Penny Milnes.
Several opposition members reiterated the points made earlier in the meeting about the support independent candidates received during the May 2019 elections, stating that they felt that special responsibility appointments should reflect the political proportionality of the Council. They suggested that this would help develop greater openness and transparency and expressed a belief that the roles should be appointed on the basis of skill and experience and not patronage.
One member referred to the process for agenda setting at overview and scrutiny committees and the barriers that he had faced trying to get items added to the committee’s work programme. He also stated that there were times when he had requested information that had not been provided; this meant that he had to resort to submitting Freedom of Information requests. He stated that he hoped that there would be a more collaborative approach under the committee’s new chairman, and that he felt that there were some chairmen who did not appreciate the responsibility of their roles.
The concern about a lack seats on committees for the Labour group was also reiterated. Some reassurance was provided by the Leader in his summing up, when he stated that the Constitution Committee was undertaking a review of the Council’s Constitution, which could include a review of the size of the Council’s Committees.
In his summing up speech, the Leader also stated that the new Scrutiny Officer, who was due to start on 1 October 2019, would help add more openness. He referred to other steps to improve openness including open questions at council meetings, having Cabinet minutes on the agenda for Council meetings, and putting arrangements in place for all members to speak at Cabinet and committee meetings.
The Leader also stated that if Members were finding it difficult to get items added to committee agendas, then they should raise the matter with the Chief Executive. He added that there should be no need for Councillors to submit Freedom of Information requests in order to obtain information, which he would pick up with the Chief Executive. He stated that some of the matters that had been raised during debate would be picked up as part of the review of the Council’s Constitution. He concluded by saying that he had full confidence in all the individuals he had appointed to roles that attract special responsibility payments.
On being put to the vote, the Council AGREED to:
· Remove Councillor Benn from the Planning Committee and carry the vacancy until the next meeting of Council
· Appoint Councillor P Wood as the Vice-Chairman of the Constitution Committee
· Replace Councillor Lee with Councillor Dobson on the Employment Committee
· Appoint Councillor Benn as the Chairman of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee
· Replace Councillor Chivers with Councillor Manterfield on the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee
· Replace Councillor Hansen with Councillor Milnes on the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee