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Agenda Item No. 5

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Democratic Services Committee: 26th July, 2016

 

Report of the Head of Democratic Services

 

Council Constitution: Procedure re Recorded Votes

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To facilitate consideration by the Committee of whether to change the provision of the requirements in relation to Recorded Votes (as set out in paragraph 4.23.5 of the Council's Constitution).

Recommendations

That it be recommended to Full Council that no changes be made to the procedures governing the recording of votes as currently set out in the Councils' Constitution.

Reasons for the Recommendations

To comply with Council Minute No. 1063 of 27th April, 2016.

Background

  1. Since the formal introduction of the Council's Executive Arrangements in May 2002, the Constitution has remained under review and will continue to be so, on an ongoing basis. Under Section 2.4 of the Constitution, the Monitoring Officer has a duty to monitor and review the operation of the Constitution to ensure that the aims and principles contained therein are given full effect. Any changes considered necessary are subject to approval by Full Council after consideration of the proposals by the Monitoring Officer.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The following Notice of Motion (submitted by Councillors Kevin Mahoney and Christopher Williams) was considered by Full Council on 27th April 2016.

"To change the provision of 4.23.5 Recorded Vote in the Constitution to :-

4.23.5  Recorded vote

If one member present at the meeting demands it, the names for and against the motion or amendment or abstaining from voting will be taken down in writing and entered into the minutes. A demand for a recorded vote will override a demand for a ballot."

  1. In introducing the Motion at the Council Meeting, Councillor Mahoney indicated that he felt most strongly that every elected politician's voting records and stance on any particular vote on any matter should be recorded and a matter of verification if sought by any member of the public. In submitting the Motion, he indicated that he had made a concession by insisting that his request should not apply to every minor vote taken at every meeting of the Council, but considered that it should be the case where matters were considered at meetings of the Council and the Planning Committee. He would consider it vital that the public, the residents of the Vale of Glamorgan, were able to check the voting records of each and every Member of the Council.
  2. Councillor Williams indicated that he was, along with Members of the Labour Group, in favour of openness and transparency.
  3. Councillor Hodges, in response to the Notice of Motion, indicated that he was surprised at the manner in which it had been written. Consequently, he formally moved an amendment to the Motion "That a report is prepared for the Democratic Services Committee for recommendations to be made to Cabinet on this and other matters relating to Full Council". He considered that this was the appropriate way to deal with business relating to potential changes to the Constitution.
  4. In formally seconding the amendment, Councillor Franks reminded Members of the recently approved new Constitution, produced following an extensive process involving the Model Constitution Working Party. He considered that the Council's Constitution was an important document and he did not think that there should be any changes to it without due process. He also felt that the original intention of the Notice of Motion was disappointing given that it would ignore the proper process of taking such matters to the Democratic Services Committee.
  5. Councillor John Thomas intimated that his original intention was to speak against the Motion, but taking account of Councillor Hodges' proposed amendment, he considered that this was the sensible way to proceed. He also echoed the comments of Councillor Franks regarding the work undertaken by the political Group Leaders and senior officers in reviewing the Constitution and felt that no changes should be made to it on a whim as proposed by Councillor Mahoney. He also referred to existing arrangements available to allow voting to be recorded and indicated that this was possibly the best way to proceed. However he agreed that the matter should be discussed at Democratic Services Committee with a further report subsequently to the Council at a future date.
  6. The Leader also expressed his surprise at the proposed Notice of Motion, indicating that the recent review of the Constitution had worked particularly well and concurred with the views of Councillor John Thomas in that such matters could not be undertaken on a whim and acknowledged that current voting facilities could be adapted. He indicated that he was content with the proposed amendment and for the matter to be referred to the Democratic Services Committee to allow the matter to be discussed properly.
  7. Councillor Penrose, in indicating his involvement in the review of the new Constitution, acknowledged each Member was entitled to a different opinion on the subject. He indicated that he was content for the matter to be discussed further by the Democratic Services Committee.
  8. In summing up, Councillor Mahoney appreciated the sentiments expressed. However, he considered the fact that a process had been in place for many years and had not been a matter identified under the recent review of the Constitution did not mean that it could never change in the future.
  9. Councillor Roberts, in referring to the amendment and wording, suggested that the amendment be amended to remove the words "and other matters".
  10. In response to Councillor Roberts' concerns, Councillor Hodges agreed to amend the wording of his amendment by removing the "and other matters", subject to the agreement of his seconder, Councillor Franks, who indicated that he was content to do so.
  11. Upon being put to the vote, the amendment proposed by Councillor Hodges and seconded by Councillor Franks was carried and it was resolved that a report be prepared for consideration by the Democratic Services Committee on options to change the provision of the requirements of Recorded Votes (paragraph 4.23.5) of the Council's Constitution.
  12. The Constitution currently provides (in Section 4.23.5) that "if six Members present at the meeting demand, the names for and against the Motion or Amendment or abstaining from voting will be taken down in writing and entered into the minutes. A demand for a recorded vote will override a demand for a ballot."
  13. The above provision has been in place since the introduction (via the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000) of the requirement for Local Authorities to adopt a Constitution. Prior to that time, an equivalent provision had been contained within the previous Standing Orders. More recently, no change has been proposed to this aspect of the Constitution during the extensive review undertaken in 2014/2015, which culminated in the current Constitution being adopted by Council in September 2015.
  14. The views of the Committee are sought as to whether it is considered there should be any change to the existing provisions regarding Recorded Votes which, in turn, would need to be considered by Full Council.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. None as a direct result of this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None as a direct result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Council is required to comply with the Local Government Act 2000 and subordinate legislation in the drawing up and subsequent operation of the Constitution.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The Constitution has been updated to reflect current legislation and, where considered appropriate, the contents of the revised Model Constitution.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. None as a direct result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Constitution is part of the framework supporting the Council's commitment to provide political leadership and active relationship and engagement.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The adoption and subsequent changing of the Constitution is a matter for the Full Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The monitoring and amendment of the Constitution is an internal matter and therefore no external consultation is necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Performance and Resources

Background Papers

Council Constitution

Council Minute 1063: 27th April, 2016

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, Tel: 01446 709408

Officers Consulted

Managing Director

Monitoring Officer

Responsible Officer:

Jeff Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services

 

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