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DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 24th July, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor C.P. Franks (Chairman); Councillor R.L. Traherne (Vice-Chairman); Councillors R.J. Bertin, Ms. B.E. Brooks, G.H. Roberts, J.W. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson, E. Williams and M.R. Wilson.

 

 

197     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor J. Drysdale.

 

 

198     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

199     DESIGNATION OF HEAD OF DEMOCRATIC SERVICES (CX) -

 

In order to comply with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 the Council was required to designate an appropriate officer to undertake the new statutory role of Head of Democratic Services.

 

The designation in itself was required to be considered and approved by the Democratic Services Committee at its inaugural meeting and on the basis of a recommendation from the Head of Paid Service.

 

As reported to the meeting of the Council on 27th June, 2012, the recommendation was that the current Operational Manager (Democratic Services) be designated as the Head of Democratic Services, but with the post to remain on Operational Manager grade.  It was considered that such a designation was felt to be congruent with the current duties of the officer concerned and the requirements set out in the guidelines to the Measure.  It was noted that the postholder would retain his existing title. 

 

Having considered the above and related issues it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the Operational Manager (Democratic Services) be designated as Head of Democratic Services for the purposes of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 and that his Job Description be amended to include the above designation.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure that the Council complied with the requirements of the Measure regarding the designation of an officer to undertake the duties of 'Head of Democratic Services'. 


 

200     DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE: MEMBERSHIP AND TERMS OF REFERENCE (CX) -

 

The report set out the current membership of the Committee, including its terms of reference as defined by the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.

 

In referring to the role, the Operational Manager (Democratic Services) (Head of Democratic Services Designated) also referred to the wider remit of the role which extended to matters such as Member Development and increasing public engagement in the role of the Council's Scrutiny function.  Both of these subject areas would be subject to a further report to the Committee at its next meeting. 

 

He also referred to a recent meeting of the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group where the Group agreed that it would continue to meet in its current format.  He also acknowledged that there was a degree of synergy between this Group and the Committee, but considered it important to ensure that there was clear demarcation between the objectives of both bodies, particularly given that the Committee had a statutory function to fulfil.  Having regard to this specific issue, the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group agreed that they would hold meetings of the Group, on a quarterly basis, at least a fortnight in advance of scheduled meetings of the Committee in order that any issues raised by the Group could be appropriately considered by the Democratic Services Committee. 

 

Brief discussion ensued regarding the Measure's requirement in regard to public engagement, including initiatives that the Council had undertaken previously in relation to public surveys and the Council's existing Charter with Town and Community Councils. 

 

Having regard to the above issues it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the Operational Manager (Democratic Services) (Head of Democratic Services Designated) submit a further report to the next meeting setting out those areas considered to fall within the Terms of Reference of the Committee to allow these to be monitored/progressed accordingly. 

 

Reason for decision

 

To meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.

 

 

201     LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WALES) MEASURE 2011: GUIDANCE RE DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE (OM (HDS)) -

 

The report set out for the Committee's consideration an extract from the statutory guidance in relation to the Committee made under Section 16 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.  One of the purposes of the Measure was to establish the Democratic Services Committee and to designate an officer within each Council as the Head of Democratic Services.  Responsibilities within the purview of the Committee had been subject of reports earlier in the agenda. 

 

One of the main responsibilities the Measure placed on the designated officer (Head of Democratic Services) and, in turn, the Democratic Services Committee was to ensure that the Council's Democratic and Scrutiny support arrangements for non-Executive Members were adequate to allow non-Executive Members of the Council to effectively undertake their role.  The Operational Manager (Democratic Services) indicated that current resources available would need to be assessed to comply with the spirit of the Measure's intention.  A further report would be presented to a future meeting of the Committee providing all options available.  He referred also to the diverse nature of the work of the existing Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section of the Council and alluded to the fact that any options to increase support as referred to above did not necessarily mean that new funding would be required.  He also referred to the outstanding recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) Budget Task and Finish Group and intimated that this would also need to be considered as part of the overall deliberation of options by the Committee.  He also alluded to other initiatives i.e. the possibility of utilising officers within other Directorates who had specific skill sets to support and assist Scrutiny Members undertaking future scrutiny work programme tasks.

 

He reminded the Committee that the final decision on resources would rest with Full Council, who would need to explain any decision not in keeping with the recommendations of the Democratic Services Committee.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the Operational Manager (Democratic Services) (Head of Democratic Services Designate) submit a further report on options regarding existing / potential resources considered appropriate to allow the Council’s Democratic Services functions to be discharged in accordance with the requirements of the Measure.

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