Agenda and minutes
Venue: Microsoft Teams
Contact: Andrew Mossop 0151 691 8501 Principal Democratic Services Officer
CIVIC MAYOR'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
To receive the Civic Mayor's announcements and any apologies for absence.
The Civic Mayor welcomed everyone to the meeting and announced that it was his sad duty to announce the recent passing of Councillor Geoffrey Watt and former Councillor David Elderton. On behalf of the whole Council he extended his condolences to both Geoffrey’s and David’s families and friends.
The Council then observed a minute’s silence in tribute to both Councillor Geoffrey Watt and former Councillor David Elderton.
The Mayor then invited Councillor Moira McLaughlin to say a few words in respect of former Councillor Bill Davies.
Councillor Moira McLaughlin addressed the Council and spoke warmly of former Councillor Bill Davies, who had resigned his seat a few weeks ago, after 34 years’ service as a councillor, in order to concentrate on his own health, paying tribute to his tireless work for his constituents in Rock Ferry.
ELECTION OF CIVIC MAYOR 2020/21
To elect the Civic Mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral for the municipal year 2020/21.
The Director of Law and Governance invited nominations for election of the Civic Mayor for the remainder of the municipal year.
On a motion moved by Councillor Phil Gilchrist, seconded by Councillor Janette Williamson and, in the absence of any other nominations, it was:
Resolved (unanimously) – That Councillor Tony Smith be elected Civic Mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral for the 2020/21 municipal year.
DEPUTY CIVIC MAYOR 2020/21
To appoint the Deputy Civic Mayor.
The Civic Mayor invited nominations for the appointment of a Deputy Civic Mayor for the remainder of the municipal year.
On a motion moved by Councillor Janette Williamson, seconded by Councillor Anita Leech, and in the absence of any other nominations, it was:
Resolved (unanimously) – That Councillor George Davies be appointed Deputy Civic Mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral for the 2020/21 municipal year.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Council are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest, in connection with any matter to be debated or determined at this meeting and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.
Members of the Council were invited to consider whether they had any disclosable pecuniary and / or any other relevant interest in connection with any matters to be determined at this meeting and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of the interest.
No such declarations were made.
To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the two meetings of Council held on 16 March and 20 July, 2020.
The minutes of the meetings of the Council held on 16 March and 20 July, 2020 had been circulated to Members. On a motion by the Civic Mayor, seconded by Councillor Janette Williamson, it was –
Resolved (unanimously) – That the minutes of the meetings be approved and adopted as a correct record.
MATTERS REQUIRING APPROVAL OR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNCIL
To consider the following reports of the Director of Law and Governance (Monitoring Officer) which require the approval or consideration of the Council.
In accordance with Standing Order 5(2) six matters had been submitted for approval by the Council (see minutes 7 to 12 post).
The minutes of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee of 10 September, 2020, together with the revised Council Constitution, are attached.
The first item requiring approval was in relation to the adoption of a revised Council Constitution.
Councillor Tony Cox moved and Councillor Moira McLaughlin seconded the adoption of a revised Council Constitution as recommended by the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee at its meeting on 10 September, 2020, subject to the inclusion of the consequential amendments circulated with the agenda supplement.
Councillor Phil Gilchrist moved and Councillor Chris Carubia seconded an amendment as follows:
“Membership of the Audit and Risk Management Committee shall take due account of the available evidence, advice and best practice existing at the time of its composition. Council not only recognises the importance of its independence but also has due regard to the experience and judgment of its members.
Having regard to this, it is noted that the CIPFA ‘Practical Guidance for Local Authorities and Police Audit Committees 2018’ is written exclusively in the language of executive functions and a leader or mayor and cabinet system and that, on being asked, the CIPFA Better Governance Advisor provided only a brief interpretation that “it is best to keep separation of audit committee members (particularly chairs) from policy committees”
Officers sought and received further information on this point from CIPFA which is set out here.
I would define ‘executive member’ as used in the guidance to mean a member of the Policy and Resources Committee or chair of one of the other policy committees.
The primary purpose of the chair of the audit committee is to ensure that it fulfils its purpose and operates in accordance with its terms of reference. The principles in the CIPFA Position Statement should underpin the operation of the committee. If the chair of the audit committee attends Policy and Resources Committee it should be to represent the audit committee and this should be as a non-voting observer of the Policy and Resources Committee rather than a voting member.
Accordingly, in the interests of good practice, the membership of the Audit and Risk Management Committee should be amended at Section 13.1 of Part 3(B) of the Constitution and a paragraph inserted to read:
(a) The membership of the Audit and Risk Management Committee may not include the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Council or a Chair of a Policy and Services Committee.
(b) Members may not review decisions as part of the Audit and Risk Management Committee that they have made as a member of another Committee. In this case, they should declare an interest and leave the meeting room. If a member feels that there is a particular reason why he or she should participate, a dispensation must be sought from the Constitution and Standards Committee or Monitoring Officer.
Whilst the opportunity will be taken to explore more fully with CIPFA and external audit how the CIPFA ‘Practical Guidance for Local Authorities and Police Audit Committees 2018’ can be most appropriately and practically applied to a committee system and reported upon as part of the review of the constitution at ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To determine such committees as the Council considers appropriate for the municipal year and,
(i) determine the number of members to form the committees and the allocation of seats to political groups in accordance with the rules on political balance; and
(ii) determine the number of members to form those committees differing from political balance and to appoint to those committees (part of which requires a unanimous vote).
The second item requiring approval was in relation to the appointment of committees.
On motion by the Civic Mayor, seconded by Councillor Janette Williamson, it was -
Resolved (unanimously) –
(1) (61:0) (One abstention) – That the Constitution and Standards Committee, at Section 14.1 of part 3(B) and the Senior Officer Appointments and Staffing Sub Committee and associated sub Committee, at section 1.3 and 1.4 of part 3(B); be appointed and be exempt from political balance requirements.
(2) That seats be allocated on those remaining committees subject to political balance arrangements, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report on the agenda but that due to the recent sad passing of Councillor Geoffrey Watt, this be as an interim measure only and that the Director of Law and Governance be authorised, in consultation with the political group leaders, to complete a review of the representation of different political groups on the Council as soon as practicable after this Annual Meeting.
(3) That the Monitoring Officer as proper officer be authorised to carry out the wishes of the Leaders of Political Groups in allocating Members to membership and substitute membership of the committees or other authorities and to appoint those Members with effect from the date at which the proper officer is advised of the names of such Members. [Subsequently revised list of all committee appointments attached as appendix A]
(i) the Leader of the Council (Chair of Policy & Resources Committee);
(ii) the Deputy Leader of the Council (Vice-Chair of Policy & Resources Committee); and
(iii) the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of all other Council committees, at B. above, other than those which the Council has decided should be appointed by the committee itself.
The third matter requiring approval was in relation to the appointment of Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Committees.
On a motion by Councillor Anita Leech, seconded by Councillor Tom Usher, it was -
A. Resolved (unanimously) –
(1) That Councillor Janette Williamson be appointed Leader of the Council (Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee).
The Civic Mayor then invited Councillor Janette Williamson to make her acceptance speech. In doing so she offered her sincere condolences to the families of Councillor Geoffrey Watt and former Councillor David Elderton.
Councillor Janette Williamson also referred to the recent deaths of two highly valued members of staff, Bernie Miller, who had served the Council in keeping the Town Hall clean and safe over 39 years and Mark Redman, recently promoted to Design and Commission Manager in Highways Services, who had served the Council for 34 years and passed on her condolences to their respective families. She also offered condolences to all the families in Wirral who had lost loved ones to Covid. She spoke of the huge impact which the current pandemic was having on residents and businesses across Wirral and that the Council would do everything it could to help and support the vulnerable, businesses and communities and of the need to address health inequalities within the borough.
B. Resolved (unanimously) -
(2) That Councillor Anita Leech be appointed Deputy Leader of the Council (Vice-Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee).
On a motion by Councillor Janette Williamson, seconded by Councillor Anita Leech, it was –
C. Resolved (unanimously) -
(3) That Chairs and Vice-Chairs be appointed to Committees and Sub-Committees as referred to in the list circulated in the supplementary agenda, subject to the replacement of Councillor Jeff Green as Chair of Audit and Risk Management Committee with Councillor Kathy Hodson, and that the appointments be as set out below.
Appoint Members to panels, advisory committees, working parties and miscellaneous other bodies and appoint Members (and/or other individuals) to outside bodies and organisations, unless otherwise delegated.
The fifth matter requiring approval was in relation to the appointment of Members (and/or other individuals) to outside bodies and organisations and to panels, advisory committees, working parties and miscellaneous other bodies.
During consideration of this matter, the Civic Mayor adjourned the meeting for five minutes at 8.05pm.
The meeting resumed at 8.13pm.
On a motion by Councillor Janette Williamson, seconded by Councillor Anita Leech, it was -
A. Resolved (unanimously) –
(1) That Members, officers or others as appropriate be appointed or nominated, as the case may be, to represent the Council on various other bodies and outside organisations, as listed in the agenda supplement, (with the exception of the final appointment to the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority – see below) and;
(2) the proper officer be authorised, in respect of any appointments not made at this Annual Meeting, to carry out the wishes of the Committee or, in relation to appointments or nomination of several Members to a body, the Leaders of Political Groups and to appoint those Members or persons with effect from the date at which the proper officer is advised of their names.
In respect of the appointment to the Liverpool City Region Transport Committee, it was moved by Councillor Phil Gilchrist and seconded by Councillor Chris Carubia, that,
“Councillor Dave Mitchell be appointed to the fourth position on the LCR Transport Committee.”
It was moved by Councillor Chris Cooke and seconded by Councillor Pat Cleary, that,
“Councillor Pat Cleary be appointed to the fourth position on the LCR Transport Committee.”
The Director of Law and Governance, in response to a Member’s question, advised the Council that he had sought advice from the Combined Authority’s Monitoring Officer in respect of this appointment, and that it had been confirmed that it was entirely a matter for each Local Authority who was appointed with there being no requirement for political balance for the four places allocated to Wirral Council.
A vote was then taken in accordance with Standing Order 17.6 and it was –
B. Resolved (33:28) (One abstention) – That Councillor Pat Cleary be appointed to the final position on the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel is attached.
The sixth matter requiring approval was in relation to the Members’ Allowances Scheme.
The Civic Mayor moved and it was seconded by Councillor George Davies, that,
“The recommendations in the report be approved.”
An amendment was moved by Councillor Pat Cleary, seconded by Councillor Chris Cooke, as follows:
“Replace Recommendation (1) with the following:
· The relatively very large special responsibility allowance (SRA) recommended for members of the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Transport Committee (£5,675) plus the additional allowance for a Lead Member (£4,433) and that all Transport Committee members currently enjoy free public transport across the LCR.
· The lack of any recommended allowance for Vice Chairs of the Policy and Services committees
· The unexplained thresholds for the SRA for the Deputy Leader of the third largest group (at least six members) and the Leader of Other Groups (at least three members)
· The potentially perverse outcomes of the current recommendations whereby, for example, the Deputy Leader of a third largest group comprising of at least six members would receive a SRA four times greater than the Leader of a Group with five members (£4,800/£1,200)
Council therefore agrees to approve the Members’ Allowance Scheme detailed in Appendix 1 to the report and the schedule of approved duties with the following changes:
Amend the Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) payable to LCR Transport Committee members to align with the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (£1,834) and to amend the additional SRA payable to a Lead Member of the Transport Committee to the same amount (£1,834);
Council also agrees to ask the Remuneration Panel as part of its planned review in the next municipal year to specifically consider:
1. The introduction of SRAs for Vice Chairs of the Policy and Services Committees.
2. Adjustments to the scheme to remove the potential for perverse outcomes as detailed above.
and to write to the Chair of the LCR Transport Committee detailing this decision.”
After a debate, and in response to questions from Members, the Director of Law and Governance confirmed that the cost of the new scheme would be roughly the same as the previous scheme, taking account of the fact some Members would hold more than one position but would only be eligible to claim for one special responsibility allowance. With regard to any payments to Vice-Chairs as proposed in the amendment he was not aware that any calculations had been costed up nor that any approach had been made for referral back to the Independent Remuneration Panel.
Following a debate the amendment was put and lost (2:58) (Two abstentions).
A second amendment to the recommendation was then circulated, moved by Councillor Janette Williamson and seconded by Councillor Anita Leech, that,
“This Council accepts the report of the Independent Remuneration Panel and thanks the panel for its work. We recognise that it is important that Councillors receive remuneration so that the broadest possible range of people are enabled to take up the role. However, at this time, we are not accepting the suggested 5% ... view the full minutes text for item 11.