Agenda, decisions and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Thursday, 22nd October, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Remote

Contact: Fatima Butt - 01274 432227 

Items
No. Item

7.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

 

Minutes:

No disclosures of interest in matters under consideration were received.

8.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Fatima Butt - 01274 432227)

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest in matters under consideration.

 

9.

COUNCIL MEETINGS CORONAVIRUS GOVERNANCE REVIEW - ORDINARY MEETINGS OF FULL COUNCIL pdf icon PDF 191 KB

Reports have been presented to this Committee on 20 August and 17 September 2020 presenting an overview of delivering meetings in the democratic decision making structure since the beginning of the Coronavirus period. Government regulations and guidance meant that meetings could not be held physically in a meeting room and the introduction of the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 permitted meetings to take place remotely. The first meeting of full Council, an Extraordinary meeting, was held on 8 September 2020.

 

The  report of the City Solicitor (Document “L”) considers whether it is feasible to deliver an Ordinary meeting of Council.

 

Recommended –

 

                That the Committee is asked to advise whether it is considered feasible to hold ordinary meetings of Council during this pandemic period and, if so, whether those meetings should be held on the basis of the current arrangements set out in Standing Orders in the Council’s Constitution or the City Solicitor be recommended to deliver revised arrangements and introduce further interim amendments to Standing Orders as set out in the report after consulting with the Lord Mayor and Leader of the Council after consultation on the proposals with the political group leaders and group whips of the three largest groups.

 

                                                            (Adrian Tumber – 07970 412150)

 

 

Minutes:

Reports had been presented to this Committee on 20 August and 17 September 2020 presenting an overview of delivering meetings in the democratic decision making structure since the beginning of the Coronavirus period. Government regulations and guidance meant that meetings could not be held physically in a meeting room and the introduction of the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 permitted meetings to take place remotely. The first meeting of full Council, an Extraordinary meeting, was held on 8 September 2020.

 

The report of the City Solicitor (Document “L”) considers whether it is now feasible to deliver an Ordinary meeting of Council.

           

            The Governance, Scrutiny and Members Support Manager reported that arrangements for holding Ordinary meetings of Council as set out in Standing Orders raised the following issues:

 

            a)         Holding meetings remotely it was not possible to circulate paper documents at the start of the meeting.

            b)         The deadlines set out for the submission of amendments to motions and the receipt of documents that were circulated at the start of the meeting were on the day of the Council meeting and it would not be possible to ensure that all Members were able to receive and read all the documents given the short timescale.

            c)         Public participants in addition to the Members, officers supporting the meeting from the Council and Public-i would mean that more people in excess of 100) would need to access the remote meeting platform placing additional pressure upon delivering the meeting remotely.

            d)         Delivering meetings remotely was demanding on resources. The delivery of the remote Extraordinary meeting of Council necessitated considerable preparation. This included preparatory sessions for all Members of Council and individual support provided for Members by the Council’s IT Service and its partner in delivering meetings remotely, Public-i. From the governance staff’s perspective implementing the current arrangements for ordinary meetings of Council would involve a level of complexity far greater than the Extraordinary meeting of Council involved.

            e)         Consideration had to be given to the length of meetings held remotely. Experience had shown that long meetings held remotely placed heavy demands on the participants and keeping the current ordinary meeting of Council arrangements in place could potentially lead to long meetings.

 

He reported that delivering ordinary meetings of Council in a simplified way were detailed in paragraph 4 of the report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members made the following comments:

 

·         Why wasn’t there an ability to amend motions?

·         Ordinary meetings of Council were a useful platform for residents and it was a way of holding Executive to account through Member questions – supplementary questions should be permitted.

·         Don’t recall having all six groups putting amendments to motions before.

·         What was the maximum number of people that could participate in a remote meeting?

·         Needed to look at how technology could be used to maximise public engagement.

·         How petitions were received at Council could be streamlined – such as no need to vote  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.