VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
Minutes of a Special Meeting held on 12th November, 2014.
Present: Councillor Howard Hamilton (Mayor); Councillors Richard Bertin, Rhiannon Birch, Jonathan Bird, Bronwen Brooks, Lis Burnett, Philip Clarke, Geoff Cox, Claire Curtis, Rob Curtis, Pamela Drake, John Drysdale, Kate Edmunds, Stuart Egan, Christopher Elmore, Christopher Franks, Keith Geary, Eric Hacker, Val Hartrey, Keith Hatton, Nic Hodges, Jeff James, Gwyn John, Fred Johnson, Dr. Ian Johnson, Peter King, Kevin Mahoney, Anne Moore, Neil Moore, Andrew Parker, Bob Penrose, Anthony Powell, Audrey Preston, Rhona Probert, Gwyn Roberts, Ray Thomas, Steffan Wiliam, Margaret Wilkinson, Clive Williams, Christopher Williams, Edward Williams and Mark Wilson.
601 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -
These were received from Councillors Janice Birch, Hunter Jarvie, Maureen Kelly Owen, John Thomas and Rhodri Traherne.
602 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
Given that the following item related to the roles and responsibilities of the Managing Director and the Head of Legal Services, neither officer was in attendance at the meeting.
603 RE-DESIGNATION OF RETURNING OFFICER DUTIES (LEADER) -
Sian Davies, Managing Director, would be retiring from post on 31st March 2015.
Work was 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 2nd September 2014. A report would be submitted to Council with the outcomes of the review on 17th December 2014.
One of the roles undertaken by the above postholder was 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.
The Returning Officer role included overall responsibility for the conduct of elections and was an appointment made in accordance with the Representation of the People Acts 1983, 1985 and 2000 (as amended). Although the Returning Officer was appointed by the Council, and was usually a senior officer of the Council, the role was one of a personal nature carrying individual statutory liability. As such, the role was distinct and separate from an individual's duties as a local government officer.
Within this Council the role of Returning Officer was undertaken alongside the related role of Electoral Registration Officer (ERO). The main duty of the ERO was the creation and maintenance of the Register of Electors and similar tasks in relation to the Absent Voters List.
There was a 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.
In accordance with the above it was proposed that the current Head of Legal Services / Monitoring Officer be designated as the Proper Officer for all Electoral Registration and Returning Officer functions with effect from 13th November 2014.
The above role would 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.
As alluded to above, the role was separate from the officer's duties as a local government officer and required the undertaking of responsibilities of a personal nature and being directly accountable to the court as an independent statutory office holder. The role would be undertaken separately and distinct from the postholder's role of Head of Legal Services/Monitoring Officer. The postholder was 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.
It was proposed that the designation be initially on a two year interim basis, i.e. up to 12th November 2016. Such an arrangement would 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 could then be reviewed in the context of the Council's Senior Management arrangements at that time.
The allocation of the above role would not have implications for the postholder's current salary and terms and conditions as Head of Legal Services/Monitoring Officer. Fees would, however be due for duties undertaken as Returning Officer in respect of elections and referenda as and when they happened. Such fees were referenced in the Council's current Employee Pay Policy 2014/15.
Fees for Local Government Elections and bi-elections (as and when) would vary according to the nature of the elections and the number of contested and uncontested wards. Returning Officer fees for non-local elections were set by legislation prior to the election and within Fees and Charges Orders. The undertaking of the role of Electoral Registration Officer would not attract any separate fees or remuneration and, as such, would also not have implications for the postholder's current salary grade and terms and conditions.
(1) T H A T 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 of the report, be approved.
(2) T H A T Article 12 of the Council's Constitution be amended to reflect the re-designation of the roles as set out in resolution (1) above.