Agenda and minutes

Constitution Committee - Monday, 7th March, 2022 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

No. Item


Apologies for absence

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    An apology for absence was received from Councillor Fellows.


Disclosure of interests

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


    None disclosed.


Minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 158 KB

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    The minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2022 were proposed, seconded and AGREED.


    A comment was made in relation to minute 30 to which the Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer replied that the Acceptance of Office made when a Member was elected would also extend to cover the new Model Code of Conduct adopted by Council in November 2021.


    A further comment was made in relation to an action from the last meeting and the Member was referred to page 11 of the agenda pack.


Updates on Actions from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 55 KB

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    No comments were made.


Planning Services Review - Amendments to the Council's Constitution relating to planning decision making pdf icon PDF 395 KB

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    The Committee to consider proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution and make recommendations on amendments that clarify and streamline the planning process.

    Additional documents:


    A discrepancy had been raised between the information discussed at the Planning Committee workshops and the information contained within the report circulated with the agenda and therefore the Chairman proposed to defer the item to the next meeting of the Committee.  The proposal was seconded and on being put to the vote it was AGREED to defer the item.


    Concern was expressed by some Members about the short notice given to defer the item.  Comments were also made about the lack of any minutes or notes taken at the informal Planning meetings at which the planning review documents were discussed.  It was noted that the meetings had been streamed to the public but a decision had been made that no formal minutes would be taken due to the informal nature of the meeting.  Any points made during the meetings had not been reflected within the report which had led to the report being deferred.


    The Committee agreed to allow a Member, who was not on the Committee, to speak.  He expressed his disappointment about the item being deferred as he had travelled from the south of the district to attend the meeting specifically for that item as he was also on the Planning Committee.  The Member also asked where the informal planning meetings could be found on YouTube as he had failed to find them. 




    That the item on the Planning Services Review – Amendments to the Council’s Constitution relating to planning decision making be deferred to the next meeting of the Constitution Committee.


Constitution Review pdf icon PDF 237 KB

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    ·         Part 1 - Explanation and Summary

    ·         Part 2 – Articles of the Constitution

    Additional documents:


    Members had been circulated with a revised Part 1 and Part 2 of the Constitution.  Part 3 of the Constitution (Responsibility for Functions) had been approved at Council on 27 January 2022.   The contents of both Part 1 and Part 2 were mainly administrative.  The Head of Democratic Services and Deputy Monitoring Officer stated that the documents had been before the political group leaders and also the Council’s Corporate Management Team.


    The mapping system used for Part 3 had been used for both Part 1 and Part 2 which detailed the areas that had been amended, removed or added and the reasoning behind this. 


    One of the key details that had been removed was the political balance information.  This information changed on a regular basis and was not something that was generally featured within a constitution.  Member’s’ attention was drawn to the table on page 45 of the agenda pack which showed those parts lifted from the current Constitution (green) and those that had been removed (red) and the reason why.


    One Member asked what the yellow and blue colours represented and the Head of Democratic Services and Deputy Monitoring Officer replied that the blue highlighted areas that had been taken from the current Constitution and had been amended and the yellow highlighted areas that had been added.


    A further comment was made in relation to how Members were appointed to committees and whether this had changed as the process followed in practice was not the same as currently represented in the Constitution. It was stated that the information in the draft before the Committee at this meeting had been lifted from the current Constitution, but this would be looked at to make sure the correct process was included in the revised Constitution. 


    Reference was made to the exclusion of cross references within the Constitution as these could be useful and also the removal of political balance.  The proposed removal of the political balance table would be something that Members could take a vote on as some felt it was useful to be included in the document, whereas some Members agreed that it should not feature in the Constitution.  Comments on the removal of the political balance table followed.  It was noted that reference to political balance and an explanation of how it worked was more useful, than having a political balance table which could very quickly become out of date.


    Discussion then followed on the overview and scrutiny function and who had responsibility to change the overview and scrutiny committees with reference being made to the changes presented at Council in 2017 without an accompanying report.  The Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer stated that this should form part of the Terms of Reference of any overview and scrutiny committee.  The type and number should be part of the Constitution and any constitutional change should be considered by the Constitution Committee, but the ultimate decision would be taken by Full Council.


    Concern was expressed about how changes to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.


Format of Constitution

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    Committee to discuss the final format of the reviewed Constitution.


    At the previous meeting of the Committee the format of the final Constitution had been asked to be included on the agenda.  It was proposed that the Council moved away from having a hard copy Constitution for each Member.  Hard copies would be available in the Members Room together with the Political Group Leaders room with the most up to date copy being available electronically on the Council’s website.  


    The format of the document was discussed and a loose leaf A4 document that could be easily amended was mentioned.  One Member stressed the importance of having a version control on any amended pages so that it was clear which version was the most up to date and also the inclusion of an index for ease of reference.


    Reference was made to the inability to search the current Constitution on the website due to how it was uploaded to the system. 


    Further discussion followed on the number of hard copies that should be available especially as the Council had declared a climate emergency.  It was noted that a hard copy would be available to those Members who wished to have a hard copy and a few hard copies would be available at Council meetings for reference and others would be placed within the Members room and Opposition Group Leaders room but Members would be directed to the electronic version of the document.  


    A comment was made about the IT devices that Members had and it was stated that the device should fit the individual and Members should have a choice of what type of device worked best for them, whether that was a laptop or tablet.




Extra Meeting Dates

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    Committee to discuss further meeting dates in April and May 2022.


    Members discussed the need to have extra meetings or workshops before the Full Council AGM in May.  Some Members felt that any extra meetings or workshops should be held in public.  It was proposed, seconded and AGREED that extra meetings and/or workshops are held before the May AGM.




    That extra meetings and/or workshops of the Constitution Committee are arranged before the Full Council AGM in May 2022.


    A question was asked about when the scrutiny review findings and any changes to the Constitution following the review would come before the Constitution Committee.  The Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer stated that work was on going.  Some changes which weren’t constitutional would go straight to Council.  However, any constitutional changes would come before the Committee for them to make recommendations to Council.


Close of meeting

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    The meeting closed at 11:48am.