Agenda Item No. 11
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
COUNCIL: 28TH SEPTEMBER, 2016
REFERENCE FROM DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE: 26TH JULY, 2016
“234 COUNCIL CONSTITUTION: PROCEDURE RE RECORDED VOTES (HDS) –
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.”
Consideration of the matter by Full Council (including an amendment to the Motion being approved) resulted in it being 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.
The Constitution currently provided (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."
The above provision had 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 had 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.
The views of the Committee were sought as to whether it was considered there should be any change to the existing provisions regarding Recorded Votes which, in turn, would need to be considered by Full Council.
The Head of Democratic Services was asked whether many queries had been received over time regarding the current voting processes. In response, he confirmed that very few enquiries had ever been received. There had been an occasional enquiry relating to how Members had voted on a particular issue of public interest (but these had been very occasional).
As indicated in the report (and alluded to above) reference was made to the considerable amount of work undertaken by the Member Working Party in terms of reviewing the Council’s Constitution. This had resulted in the relatively recent production of a new Council Constitution. It was confirmed that, during that process, there had been no suggestion that the Council’s current procedure regarding the recording of votes was in need of being amended or requiring improvement. A number of Members of the Committee acknowledged the fact that any individual Member could already request that their own position in terms of a vote be formally recorded in the minutes.
Members agreed that the current requirement whereby six Members were required to request a Recorded Vote remained appropriate and that a reduction to, for example, two Members would arguably devalue the process. In conclusion, there was a unanimous view amongst the Members present that there was no need to change existing arrangements.
During the discussion, the concept of electronic recording of votes was raised. The Head of Democratic Services confirmed that this was an option that could be facilitated by the Council in the event that the Council formally decided it wished to adopt such an approach. Again, any future changes to such processes would be a matter for consideration by Elected Members (with any changes to the Constitution to facilitate such a process requiring approval of Full Council).
In addition to the report itself, Members also took into account an e-mail received from Councillor Bertin (who had been unable to be present at the meeting). Councillor Bertin had requested a reduction in the number required for a Recorded Vote from six to a single Member and seconder. He had also asked the Committee to consider a suggestion that audio recordings be made of meetings of the Planning Committee and Full Council on a trial basis. The former point had already been addressed during the discussion. The Head of Democratic Services suggested that there would be no point in audio recording Planning Committee meetings, which were already webcast. He also alluded to the subsequent agenda item which, if approved by Members, would see the webcasting arrangements extended to include Full Council on a trial basis.
RESOLVED – T H A T 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 Council’s Constitution.
Reason for decision
To assist in the consideration of the matter by Full Council.”