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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet: 28th March, 2012

 

Report of the Leader

 

Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To afford Members a further opportunity of expressing views on draft guidance received from the Welsh Government regarding the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.

Recommendations

1.             That the Council's concern regarding the late issuing of draft Guidance be placed on record.

2.             That the Welsh Government be urged to ensure timely distribution of Guidance in respect of the remaining elements of the Measure particularly regarding areas such as

·                    Family Absence

·                    Members’ Annual Reports

·                    Joint Overview and Scrutiny

·                    Scrutiny of “Designated Persons”

3.             That the Welsh Government be requested to clarify why the Audit Committee is not required to be politically balanced (albeit the Guidance strongly recommends such).

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

Background

2.             A Measure is a piece of law made by the Welsh Assembly.  It has similar effect to an Act of Parliament.  The Assembly is able to pass Measures on any "matter" on which power to legislate has been devolved to it by the UK Government. 

3.             The purpose of the Measure is to make provision to strengthen the structures and working of local government in Wales at all levels and to ensure that local Councils reach out to, and engage with, all sectors of the community they serve. 

4.             The Measure consists of 179 sections, most of which are due to come into effect before the Annual Meeting of the Council in May 2012.  Some provisions are already in force.  The Measure is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum of 104 pages.  The key elements of the Measure were highlighted in a report to Cabinet on 8th June, 2011.  This report is available at the following link: http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/our_council/council/minutes,_agendas_and_reports/reports/cabinet/2011/11-06-08/government_measure.aspx.

5.             More recently, the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) considered this matter on 21st February, 2012.  Again, this report is available at the following link:  http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/our_council/council/minutes,_agendas_and_reports/reports/scrutiny_cr/2012/12-02-21/local_government_measure.aspx.

6.             The Committee's only comments, which were conveyed to Cabinet, was that the current practice, of generally, holding evening meetings should be continued. 

7.             Cabinet on 29th February, 2012 resolved that a further report on the provisions of the draft Statutory Guidance be brought before Cabinet by the end of March. 

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             As previously reported to Members, the Welsh Government only issued the Draft Statutory Guidance relatively recently.  As such, the consultation period allowed was reduced to 8 weeks and ends on 30th March, 2012.  All Members of the Council have received under separate cover a copy of the draft Guidance, affording them the opportunity to submit individual comments or for political groups to do so. 

9.             Again, as previously reported, the consultation exercise is only in respect of the draft Guidance and not the Measure itself.  Indeed, local authorities are having to plan for the requirements/implications of the Measure (in many instances, taking effect from Annual Meetings in May).  The late issuing of draft Guidance by the Welsh Government has led to a considerable amount of frustration amongst practitioners.  Such concerns have already been raised at meetings of the Member Support Officer's Network and brought to the attention directly of officers from the Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association. 

10.        In addition to any other comments that Cabinet may wish to make, it is suggested that:

·                    the Council's concern regarding the late issuing of draft Guidance be placed on record

·                    the Welsh Government be urged to ensure timely distribution of Guidance in respect of the remaining elements of the Measure particularly regarding areas such as

·                    Family Absence (giving Members' the right to such in relation to areas such as maternity/adoption)

·                    Members’ Annual Reports

·                    Joint Overview and Scrutiny

·                    Scrutiny of “Designated Persons”.

11.        It is also considered that clarification be sought as to why (although the Guidance strongly recommends such), there will be no actual requirement for an Audit Committee to be politically balanced.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

12.        Some of the Measure's provisions will have resource implications. At a time when Councils are under severe pressure to reduce costs this Measure will add to them.  The final Guidance and Model Standing Orders to be issued by the Welsh Government will assist in clarifying the resources required to meet the requirements of the Measure but they have the potential to be significant.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        As set out in the Measure and this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.        None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        These matters will have been taken into account by the Welsh Government in making the Measure.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        The Measure makes arrangements for changes to the political structure of local government in Wales and the way in which local government operates.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.        This is a matter mainly for the Executive to note although the provision for Audit Committee is a council matter.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.        None.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.        Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011

Reports to Cabinet: 8th June, 2011 and 29th February, 2012

Report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 21st February, 2012.

 

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt,

Operational Manager - Democratic Services

 

Officers Consulted

Chief Executive

Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

Responsible Officer:

Peter H. Evans

Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services