Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 29TH FEBRUARY, 2012
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 21ST FEBRUARY, 2012
“ LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WALES) (MEASURE) 2011 (DLPPHS) -
The purpose of the Measure was to make provision to strengthen the structures and working of Local Government in Wales at all levels and to ensure that local Councils reached out to, and engaged with, all sectors of the community they served. The key elements of the Measure had been highlighted in the report to Cabinet on 8th June, 2011. Notwithstanding the above, the Welsh Government (WG) had only recently issued Draft Statutory Guidance regarding the Measure, the consultation period ending on 30th March, 2012. It was noted that all Members of the Council had already been sent a copy of the draft Guidance under separate copy. The various components covered within the Guidance were now enshrined within the Measure and attention was drawn to the fact that guidance on certain elements was still awaited.
The Draft Statutory Guidance was issued under the following sections of the Measure:
· Section 6(1) - Guidance in relation to timing of Council meetings, in general terms the expectation being that meetings should be held at times, intervals and locations convenient to the majority of Members.
· Section 7(4) - Guidance in relation to training and development of Members of a local authority. The new Democratic Services Committee, the establishment of which was a requirement of Section 16 of the Measure, would have overall responsibility for deciding what was to be regarded as reasonable training and development strategies.
· Section 16(2) - Guidance in relation to the discharge of functions by the Democratic Services Committee. Each Council would be required to designate one officer to the new statutory post of “Head of Democratic Services”.
The Council was also required to establish a Democratic Services Committee to:
Ø carry out the function of designating the Head of Democratic Services
Ø keep under review the provision of staff, accommodation and other resources made available to the Head of Democratic Services in order to ensure that it was adequate for the responsibilities of the post
Ø to make reports, at least annually, to the Full Council in relation to the above matters.
· Section 56(6) - Guidance in relation to exercise of functions by Councillors, the arrangements under that section providing for a Non-Executive Member to exercise functions in relation to the electoral division for which the Member had been elected or to the Member’s official membership of an outside body.
· Section 62(4) - Guidance in relation to taking account of the views of the public, the scrutiny function being regarded by the WG as helping to build and represent democratic capacity. The Guidance also covered suggestions regarding how local authorities might improve public awareness of, and public engagement in, the scrutiny process and the promotion of its work. That section of the Guidance also covered the expansion of the Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) and included ways in which engagement with the Third Sector might be enhanced.
· Section 63 - Reference of matters to Scrutiny Committees and Councillor Call for Action. As alluded to above, the Measure introduced new powers for Councillors which, in essence, widened the existing CCfA provisions.
· Section 75(2)(a) - Guidance in relation to appointment of Scrutiny Committee Chairs. Section 66 basically required political balance to be applied to the allocation of Chairmen of Scrutiny Committees.
· Section 76(1)(a) - Guidance in relation to co-option on Scrutiny Committees. The WG considered the contribution of co-opted members on committees to be able to significantly strengthen their effectiveness. The draft Guidance recommended that the number of such co-optees on the Scrutiny Committees should not exceed one third of the total membership. Other than existing statutory provisions, no new co-optees appointed would be able to be granted voting rights.
· Section 85(1) - Guidance in relation Audit Committees. Each Council was required to appointment an Audit Committee.
Implementation of some of the Measure’s provisions would have resource implications at a time when Councils were under sever pressure to reduce costs. It was anticipated that the final Guidance and Model Standing Orders to be issued by the WG would assist in clarifying the resources required to meet the requirements of the Measure.
Members were of the opinion that the only matter within the draft Guidance meriting comment at this point related to the timing of Council meetings. Members expressed the view that the current practice within the Council of meetings generally being held in the evening should be continued, which, it was considered, would assist in fostering public engagement and encourage participation in the political process from a wider audience.
(1) T H A T the draft Guidance be noted.
(2) T H A T Cabinet be notified of the Committee’s view that the only matter within the draft Guidance meriting comment related to the timing of Council meetings and that the current practice of, generally, holding evening meetings should be continued.
Reasons for Recommendations
(1) To keep Members aware of draft guidance as it is issued.
(2) To inform Cabinet in formulating its response on the draft Guidance.”
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 21st February, 2012.