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Agenda Item No. 7

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Democratic Services Committee: 16th July, 2014

 

Report of the Head of Democratic Services

 

Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide the Committee with a brief summary of the provisions of the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act ("the Act").

Recommendation

THAT the report be noted.

Reason for the Recommendation

To apprise the Committee as agreed at the last meeting.

 

Background

2.         The Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Bill was introduced in the Welsh Government in November 2012.  Attached at Appendix A to the report is an extract from the (amended) Explanatory Memorandum in respect of the Bill, issued by the Welsh Government in June 2013.

3.         The Act received Royal Assent on 30th July 2013.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         In summary, the Act contains provisions relating to the following:

·           The reform of the organisation and functions of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales

·           Amendments to the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 in relation to the responsibilities of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales and the structure of local authority Audit Committees

·           Audit Committees and Democratic Services Committees

·           Access by the public to information concerning Town and Community Councils

·           Amendments to Part III of the Local Government Act 2000 to facilitate the creation by local authorities of Joint Standards Committees

·           A provision concerning the role of the Chairman or Mayor of principal councils

·           The ability of local authorities to promote or oppose Private Bills

·           Enabling a Standards Committee of one authority to consider cases referred to it by another Standards Committee

·           The removal of the restriction preventing co-optees of Committees or Sub-Committees being able to attend meetings remotely

·           The recasting and consolidation of existing local government provisions in relation to the Boundary Commission and progressing the development of a Welsh Statute Book.

5.         As far as the Boundary Commission is concerned, it has been renamed as the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales.  The quorum of the new Commission was increased from two to three Members, with the maximum permitted size of the Commission remaining at five in order that additional members can be appointed if deemed appropriate by Welsh Ministers.  The Act also gives Welsh Ministers the power to name other public bodies in Wales whose structure includes elected councillors or council appointees, as being subject to review by the Commission.  In broad terms, the Commission continues to be responsible for boundary reviews, electoral arrangement reviews and reviews of communities.

6.         The Act also makes various amendments to the Local Government (Wales) (Measure) 2011 in respect of the way in which the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales is able to undertake its role. 

7.         The Act formalises the requirement for local authority Audit Committees to reflect the political balance within the authority.  It should be noted that this Council has met this requirement for a number of years prior to it coming into force.

8.         There is also a provision in the Act which will enable Democratic Services Committees to have flexibility to consider 'other matters' which might be considered supportive of Members and their development, such as training and development, annual reporting, remuneration and family absence of Members.  This widens the remit of Committees from that originally envisaged in the Measure which stated that specific functions only could be dealt with by the Committee.  Members will be aware from previous agendas that much of the additional remit has already been subject to reports to the Committee.

9.         With regards to Standards Committees, the Welsh Government believes that there will be benefit from relevant authorities in Wales collaborating to establish Joint Standards Committees based upon the 'Welsh Government's Collaboration Footprint for Public Services'.  The Act facilitates the establishment of Joint Standards Committees. 

10.      Members will be aware from previous reports that funding was made available (£500 per Council) via the Council to each Town and Community Council for the development of websites.  This funding pre-empted the legislative provisions which will come into force in May 2015 and which provide that every Town and Community Council will be required to provide their contact and membership details and records of their proceedings via the internet.  In addition, the Clerk, as a minimum, should be contactable by e-mail.  All local authorities, including Town and Community Councils will be required to publish their Register of Members' Interests electronically.

11.      Finally, the Act provides for a Principal Council to decide to appoint different Members to the roles of Presiding Member or Deputy Presiding Member of the Council and Mayor/Chairman and (Deputy Mayor/Deputy Chairman).  In such circumstances, the former Member would preside over meetings of the Council and the latter would conduct purely civic functions.  

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

13.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

14.      The Council is required to comply with any provisions coming into effect as a result of the Act.

Crime and Disorder Implications

15.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

16.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

17.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Policy Framework and Budget

18.      The Act covers areas which fall under the responsibility of the Executive and Full Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.      No consultation has been necessary given that the report comprises a summary of the provisions of the Act.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act

Welsh Government Explanatory Memorandum: June 2013

 

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt (01446 709408)

 

Officers Consulted

Managing Director

Head of Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Jeff Wyatt
Head of Democratic Services

 

 

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