Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Shirley Hudspeth
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors J Hale, L Rowlands and P Williams.
Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest
Members of the Committee are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.
No declarations of interest were received.
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee held on 3 July 2014 2014 as a correct record.
That the accuracy of the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 3 July 2014 be approved.
A report by the Head of Legal and Member Services and Monitoring Officer is attached.
A report by the Head of Legal and Member Services and Monitoring Officer set out the detail of the work carried out by the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Working Group during the 2014/15 Municipal Year.
The Committee noted that the Working Group had considered the following matters and/or had made recommendations for it to consider:
· Development of Member Values and Behaviours;
· Review of the Council’s Constitution;
· Policy on Reporting on Council Meetings; and
· Review of the Protocol on Member/Officer Relations
Attached to the report were:
· A draft Policy on the Reporting of Council Meetings;
· The revised Protocol on Member/Officer Relations; and
· The Department for Communities and Local Government’s Open and Accountable Local Government – August 2014.
Mr J Brace, a member of the public had emailed Members of the Committee on 1 March 2015 to make written representations in respect of this item of business and had requested that he be allowed to speak at the meeting regarding reporting/filming at Council and Committee meetings.
Committee gave consideration to Mr Brace’s request and were in agreement that he be allowed to address the Committee and allocated him five minutes in which to do so.
Mr Brace informed the Committee that he had read the report and had provided them with quotes from Regulations and Guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in advance of the meeting. He sought clarification on a number of points that he made in respect of the Policy on the Reporting of Council Meetings which was appended to the report to which the Head of Legal and Member Services and Monitoring Officer responded as appropriate. Consequently, the Committee noted that:
· The term ‘Council meetings’ used in the report meant all Council and Committee meetings held that were open to the press and public.
· The Regulations and the Policy was completely compliant with the Human Rights Act provisions.
· The Regulations and the DCLG’s Guide sought to balance and ensure that members of the public who do not want to be filmed at meetings can object. The Regulations set out a “black and white” position without any exceptions whilst the DCLG Guide went further by setting out a greater degree discretion .
· The DCLG Guide specifically states that public bodies should consider adopting a policy on the filming of members of the public, and ensure that children, the vulnerable and other members of the public who actively object to being filmed are protected, without undermining the broader transparency of the meeting. The rights of those who wish to film need to be weighed against those who do not. This was subject to a judgement call that would be considered alongside Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and the importance of the Council being able to maintain confidentiality and confidence.
· The Policy and Guidance were consistent with what was intended when the Regulations were drawn up and approved. The Policy ensured that consent would be sought and individuals were aware that this would be ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
The attached Notice of Motion was referred for consideration to the Committee by the Civic Mayor at the meeting of the Council, held on 15 December 2014.
The Committee was informed that the Civic Mayor had referred the following Notice of Motion to it for consideration at the meeting of the Council held on 15 December 2014:
‘NOTICE OF MOTION - CONSULTATION THAT COUNTS
Proposed by Councillor Phil Gilchrist
Seconded by Councillor Dave Mitchell
Council recognises that the recent consultation about the options for the future of the Lyndale School led to issues being raised about the nature and practice of ‘consultation’.
During this process, there was a distinction drawn between the notes taken at meetings and ‘high level’ notes. Whilst the inclusion of these points was contained in the subsequent reports, there is a pressing need to capture the full import and quality of points raised by the public during consultations.
Council also understands that the nature of and status of ‘pre-consultation’ was also questioned at a recent meeting of the Policy and Performance Co-ordinating Committee.
Council believes that, in the interests of good governance, there is a need for clarity to ensure that full records of consultations are effectively kept.
Council considers that guidance needs to be developed on the proper capture and reporting of points raised during consultations. The issue of the chairing of such consultations also needs to be considered.
Council requests that the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee examine the practices with a view to establishing procedures which Wirral’s citizens and Councillors can be fully conversant with and have confidence in.’
Councillor P Gilchrist, was in attendance at the meeting and introduced his Motion. He made reference to the recent consultation exercise the Council had carried out on the proposal to close the Lyndale School and detailed the procedures that had been adopted. In particular, he informed that the relevant Cabinet Member had not wanted to Chair the consultation meetings, as had been the practice during other consultations the Council had carried out, as he just wanted to listen to what was being said. Consequently, Councillor Gilchrist informed that he was of the view that the quality of the recorded proceedings may not have been of a good enough standard as they had been recorded in “a bland manner”. He also made reference to the consultations on Children’s Centres that had only just commenced.
Councillor Gilchrist’s concern was that there did not appear to be any protocols or guidance on how notes of the Council’s consultation meetings should be formatted and recorded so that the salient points were not lost.
Councillor M McLaughlin moved the following Motion which was seconded by Councillor D Roberts:
‘That this Committee requests that a preliminary report be presented to it setting out whether the Council has a protocol in place to capture information coming forward from consultation meetings.’
The Head of Legal and Member Services and Monitoring Officer informed that he was not aware of any protocols to capture information provided at consultation meetings but there may be issues around the accuracy of the Minutes taken at such meetings. He considered that there may be resource ... view the full minutes text for item 11.