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Agenda Item No. 3

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Council - 12th November 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Re-designation of Returning Officer Duties

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To ask Council to consider and approve arrangements for the re-designation of the statutory role of Returning Officer and associated role of Electoral Registration Officer in light of the retirement of the Managing Director with effect from 1st April 2015.

Recommendations

1.         That Council approve interim arrangements for the designation of Debbie Marles as the Council's Returning Officer and associated role of Electoral Registration Officer with effect from 13th November 2014 and in accordance with the arrangements set out in paragraphs 9 to 18 .

2.         That Article 12 of the Council's Constitution is amended to reflect the re-designation of the roles as set out above.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To comply with the statutory requirements of the Representation of the People Acts 1983, 1985 and 2000 (as amended).

2.         To ensure the Constitution reflects the change in statutory designation.

Background

2.         Members will be aware that Sian Davies, Managing Director will be retiring from post on the 31st March 2015.

3.         As part of the above, work is being progressed to review the options for covering the role of Head of Paid Service from the 1st April 2015 in accordance with the arrangements agreed by Council on the 2 September 2014.  A report will be submitted to Council with the outcomes of the review on 17th December 2014.

4.         One of the role's undertaken by the above post holder is that of Returning Officer for all local elections / referenda, Local Returning Officer for all European elections / referenda, Acting Returning Officer for all Parliamentary / Assembly elections / referenda and Deputy Returning Officer for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

5.         Members will be aware that the Returning Officer role includes overall responsibility for the conduct of elections and is an appointment made in accordance with the Representation of the People Acts 1983, 1985 and 2000 (as amended).

6.         Although the Returning Officer is appointed by the Council, and is usually a senior officer of the Council, the role is one of a personal nature carrying individual statutory liability. In this regard the role is distinct and separate from an individual's duties as a local government officer.

7.         Within this Council the role of Returning Officer is undertaken alongside the related role of Electoral Registration Officer (ERO).  The main duty of the ERO is the creation and maintenance of the Register of Electors and similar tasks in relation to the Absent Voters List.

8.         Members will appreciate the need to re-designate the above statutory roles as soon as possible in view of the impending retirement of the Managing Director and the need to commence early arrangements for the United Kingdom Parliamentary Elections in May 2015.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.         In accordance with the above it is proposed that the current Head of Legal Services /  Monitoring Officer is designated as the Proper Officer for all Electoral Registration and Returning Officer functions with effect  from 13th November 2014.

10.      The above role will include the undertaking of the role of:

·           Returning Officer for local, community, parish and town council elections / referenda.

·           Acting Returning Officer for Assembly / Parliamentary elections / referenda.

·           Local Returning Officer for European elections / referenda.

·           Deputy Returning for Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

·           Electoral Registration Officer.

11.      As indicated above, the role needs to be allocated to an existing senior officer of the Council. The role is separate from the officer's duties as a local government officer and requires the undertaking of responsibilities of a personal nature and being directly accountable to the court as an independent statutory office holder.

12.      If approved, the role will be undertaken separately and distinct from the post holder's role of Head of Legal Services / Monitoring Officer. 

13.      Members will be aware that the post holder is well placed to undertake the responsibilities given her seniority and expertise within the Council and her experience of undertaking the Returning Officer duties on a deputy basis.

14.      It is proposed that such designation is approved initially on a two year interim basis i.e. up to 12th November 2016.  Such an arrangement will help ensure stability and leadership in this important area for both the UK parliamentary elections in 2015 and the Welsh Assembly elections in 2016.  The position can then be reviewed in the context of the Council's Senior Management arrangements at that time.   

15.      The allocation of the above role will not have implications for the post holder's current salary and terms and conditions as Head of Legal Services / Monitoring Officer.

16.      Fees will, however be due for duties undertaken as Returning Officer in respect of elections and referenda as and when they happen.  Such fees are referenced in the Council's current Employee Pay Policy 2014/15.

17.      Fees for Local Government Elections and bi-elections (as and when) will vary according to the nature of the elections and the number of contested and uncontested wards.  Returning Officer fees for non-local elections are set by legislation prior to the election and within Fees and Charges Orders.

18.      The undertaking of the role of Electoral Registration Officer will not attract any separate fees or remuneration and, as such will also not have implications for the post holder's current salary grade and terms and conditions.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

19.      The resource implications are set out in paragraphs 15 to 18.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20.      There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21.      The Council has a statutory responsibility to designate an officer as Returning Officer in accordance with the Representation of the People Acts 1983, 1985 and 2000 (as amended).

22.      If approved, the role will be distinct and separate from the post holder's substantive role as Head of Legal Services / Monitoring Officer.

23.      The arrangement will not involve the separate "appointment of a chief officer" but simply the allocation of the role to an existing chief officer.

24.      For the above reason the arrangement does not invoke Regulation 9 of The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and as such does not need to be subject to external advertisement.

25.      The proposal set out in this report does, however raise a potential conflict of interest for a number of members of the Council's Corporate Management Team.  In view of this, external legal advice has been sought on the legal implications.  All aspects of such advice have been taken into account in finalising this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

26.      There are no crime and disorder implications directly arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

27.      In proposing the allocation of the role of Returning Officer to the Head of Legal Services / Monitoring Officer consideration has been given to the required experience, knowledge and seniority required for the role.  The recommendation is made following consultation with all members of the Corporate Management Team.

Corporate/Service Objectives

28.      The proposals within this report have been designed to meet the statutory requirements of the Council.

Policy Framework and Budget

29.      This is a matter for consideration by Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

30.      Consultation has taken place with Cabinet Members, Group Leaders, Members of the Corporate Management Team and with the recognised trade unions.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

31.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Corporate Management Team.

 

Officers Consulted

Reuben Bergman, Head of Human Resources.

 

Responsible Officer:  

Councillor Neil Moore - Leader of the Council

 

 

 

 

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