Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Shirley Hudspeth 

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chair

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That Councillor Chris Blakeley be appointed as Vice-Chair for the ensuing Municipal Year.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee meeting held on 26 February 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 26 February 2019 be confirmed as a correct record.

4.

Governance Review pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Governance and Assurance reported that the Annual Meeting of the Council required the Committee to look at the Council’s governance arrangements. The purpose was to include options to change the Council’s form of governance, with an express intention to consider adopting a committee system as well as different executive arrangements. The Committee was to report back on 11 September 2019 to allow for detailed work to follow for adoption of any new form of governance from the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Council.

 

The report was very informative and set out the various options and arguments for the Committee, in brief, and recommended establishing a Workshop and Working Group of the Committee to examine the issues further.

 

The Director had sketched out what the different forms of governance looked like in his report.  He informed that there was a distinct difference between the form of governance that the Council adopted and the arrangements that sat underneath each form.  There were two forms of governance that the Council could choose to adopt.  Principally, there was a choice between an Executive form of governance and that meant either a Leader and Cabinet or a directly elected Mayor and Cabinet or a Committee form of governance which was variations of Committees and what was permitted under the Local Government Act 1972.  This was the traditional structure that Councils did operate under until 2000 but still formed the legislative basis for those functions that were retained by the Council and not mandated to the Executive.

 

The Director reported that of those two forms of Executive there was a directly elected Mayor which was the form of governance that Liverpool City Council had adopted. The significant differences between that and a Leader and Cabinet was that a directly elected Mayor could not be removed they were in power for four years and had a greater say over the Executive governance arrangements that sat underneath them and also had a greater say over the budget.  Beyond that, there was actually very little difference between the directly elected Mayor model and the Leader model.

 

The Committee noted that what this Council currently had was a form of governance originally called the Strong Leader model because at the beginning, variations had been permitted within the Leader model and then after 2009, the Government of the day had decided that it had to be a Strong Leader model.  This had been changed dramatically by the 2011 Localism Act which allowed the Council to make several choices of the kind of Leader and Cabinet that it wanted to adopt.

 

Under the current arrangements, the Leader had the say over who made a decision but under Executive arrangements, the Council was able to say how the decision was made.  The procedures and arrangements that sat around the decision-making were governed, within the Council’s Constitution, by what was known as the Executive Procedure Rules.

 

The Director also reported that this Council was almost unique in having no Executive Procedure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Confidential: Case ID - 17020182 CCR 8355 (LGO PUBLIC REPORT) pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A report by the Lead Commissioner for All Age Independence informed that the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) had investigated a complaint about the Council and found the Council to be at fault. It had made a number of recommendations that had been accepted in full.  The Ombudsman had made the decision that the report would be published.  In accordance with the recommendations the report was being considered by the Cabinet and this Committee.  The report sought to set out the action that had been taken, or would be taken, to avoid similar faults in future and to meet the recommendations of the report in full which had been accepted.  The findings and recommendations were specific to the adult social care case that was investigated.

 

This was a confidential case so the report referred to Mr X, as the son of the former service user, and for ease of reference the same approach had been taken in this report.

 

The care and support package had been inadequate on this occasion and the Council had taken an inordinate amount of time to investigate the complaints.  Consequently, 50% of the care fees had been waived to remedy the financial loss that had been caused.  A payment of £200 had been made as a remedy for the frustration and stress caused.  Assessment staff, complaints staff and operational teams had all received the appropriate training (a two day course) around safeguarding led by an independent Safeguarding trainer from the university and a full apology had been offered. The Council had also referred the case to the Merseyside Safeguarding Adults Board with a request that it considered holding a formal review. This action had been taken and it had been referred to a Sub-Committee of the Merseyside Safeguarding Adults Board and a recommendation had been made to the independent Chair of the Board that this matter be put on the agenda for the meeting on 26 June 2019. The Council had also reviewed its complaints handling process, appointed additional resource to that team and it was now performing better on handling complaints.

 

The Assistant Director – Health and Care Outcomes was in attendance at the meeting and answered Members’ questions on the specific care and support package concerned, domiciliary care and the care provider, the detail of the complaints made, safeguarding arrangements, the subsequent actions that the Council had taken and the resulting changes that had been brought about to ensure nothing like this happened again.

 

Members registered their extreme disappointment over what had happened on this occasion. It was a very sad case and they hoped that lessons had been learnt as a result. They could see parallels going back to 2010/11 when there had been an issue of overcharging vulnerable people which had come to light. The Council this time had either not provided the correct level of care or it had overcharged the person concerned. A refund was now being made and Members wanted to know whether the costs of the refund had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Code of Practice for Governance of Council Interests in Companies pdf icon PDF 610 KB

To review the Code of Practice for Governance of Council Interests in Companies – per Leader Decision published on 20 March 2019, whereby it was:

 

Resolved –

 

(1) That the Code of Practice be adopted.

 

(2) That the Code of Practice be referred to the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Governance and Assurance informed that Councils were now able to own commercial companies and trade through them, either as a wholly owned company or as a joint venture with a private sector partner and trade on the markets.  The Council was an organisation entrusted with public money.  Consequently, in the interests of openness, transparency and accountability, the Leader had made the decision to adopt the Draft Code of Practice for the Governance of Council Interests in Companies (Draft Code) but had also referred it to the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 18 September 2019 (Minute No. 20 refers.) and to the Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting on 24 September 2019 (Minute No. 25 refers.) for noting prior to its adoption.

 

The Committee received copies of the Decision Notice, the reports considered at  meetings of the Shareholder Board on 27 June 2018 and 19 March 2019 and the Minute extracts in respect of the Business Overview and Scrutiny and the Audit and Risk Management Committees who had considered the Draft Code of Practice last September.

 

The Committee noted that the intention of the Draft Code of Practice was to promote and ensure good governance in relation to those companies in which the Council was a shareholder and create a ‘blueprint’ for an approach to company interests in concert with the Council’s adopted Commercial Strategy (minute to item 40 refers, Cabinet 26th November 2018). It was also noted that the Draft Code was in accordance with the local government model.

 

The Director reported that a lot of work had been undertaken to produce what was a national example and the model now used up and down the country and was put out by professional bodies.  It was a model that had been checked through various law firms.  There was one difference to what was here and what was in the national model.  The national model contained a suggestion that Council owned companies were held through a separate holding company.  When this was discussed at the Shareholder Board with the Leader, it was considered that the Council should not operate through a holding company but each company should be looked at separately so that was a change that was incorporated and the only change that differed from the national model. The structure of it followed the CIPFA/ SOLACE Model Code of Corporate Governance that the Council had adopted as its Corporate Code.

 

The Director was then asked a number of questions by Members about the Council’s companies, their meetings and minutes and how their operations were scrutinised which he answered accordingly. The Director was reminded that the Committee had previously asked for a list of all the companies that the Council was involved in, solely and as a joint venture and agreed to present it to a future meeting. The list would also be presented to a future meeting the Audit and Risk Management Committee.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Thatthe Code of Practice for Governance of Council Interests  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Appointment of Panels pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was requested to formally establish the Standards Panel and Standards Appeal Panel in accordance with paragraph 9.5 of Article 9 of the Council’s Constitution and the Protocol for Dealing with Complaints against Members.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)  a Standards Panel and Standards Appeal Panel be formally established pursuant to paragraph 9.5 of Article 9 of the Council’s Constitution;

 

(2)  Membership of the Standards Panel comprise:

 

  Councillors C Blakeley (Con), C Cooke (Green), P Gilchrist (Lib Dem) and Paul Stewart (Lab); and G Wood (Lab);

 

(3)  Membership of the Standards Appeal Panel comprise:

 

  Councillors T Cox (Con), M McLaughlin (Ind); and J Williamson (Lab);

 

(4)  each Political Group may nominate an ‘Alternative Member’ from his/her Political Group to sit on a Standards Panel or Standard Appeals Panel, providing that the Member nominated has undertaken the requisite training on the Members’ Code of Conduct (and any other training required by the Committee); and

 

(5)  the Director of Governance and Assurance be requested to arrange a training event for all Members of the Council in September 2019.

8.

Webcast Project Update – Viewing Statistics pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report which it had requested at its last meeting on 29 August 2019 that provided it with an update on the Council and its Committees webcast viewing statistics.

 

Members noted that a number of recent Council meetings had generated significant public interest, necessitating use of ‘overflow rooms’ where members of the public who were unable to access the Council Chamber viewing gallery could watch proceedings via the weblink. As a result, some statistics did not (positively) reflect the full level of public interest for specific meetings. It was also noted that some archive views of meetings could be generated by Council officers who utilised the archive to assist in the preparation of meeting Minutes and actions arising as a result of Member debate. 

 

The viewing figures for the Municipal Year 2018/19 (67 meetings) were as follows:

 

·  1842 ‘live’ views during all meetings  

·  6911 access views to the archive

·  8753 Total

 

A breakdown of the above figures was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

 

Members raised concerns about the poor quality subtitles/transcriptions that appeared at the bottom of the webcasts.  It was proposed that Public-I be informed that the quality was not as good as had been expected.  However, Members were informed that officers were working with Public-I, the webcasting company, to bring about improvement and were purchasing an additional piece of kit to address the issue.  Links were also being included to direct people to other services that would help with this issue.  It was noted that, there was a particular problem which was caused by the local accent. Other applications were also being explored.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)  Public-I be given the opportunity to address the problem of the poor subtitles/transcriptions with the provision of the add on to the webcasting system on order; and

 

(2)  this Committee will continue to monitor the Council’s webcasting arrangements and subsequent viewing statistics, during the ensuing Municipal Year.