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DEMOCRACY COMMITTEE

14 MARCH 2018

 

Decommissioning of Democracy Committee

 

Final Decision-Maker

Council

Lead Head of Service

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Lead Officer and Report Author

Sam Bailey, Democratic and Administration Services Manager

Classification

Public

Wards affected

All wards

 

Executive Summary

 

This report proposes the decommissioning of the Democracy Committee. The functions of the Democracy Committee are proposed to be divided between Audit, Governance and Standards Committee; Employment Committee; Urgency Committee and Service Committees.

 

This report makes the following recommendations to this Committee:

1.   That  Council be recommended to decommission the Democracy Committee, effective from the 2018/19 Municipal Year

2.   That the functions of the Democracy Committee relating to Corporate Governance, Democratic Services including the constitution, Elections and Electoral registration be transferred to the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

3.   That the functions of the Democracy Committee relating to Member Training be transferred to the Employment Committee.

4.   That the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee be given responsibility for the overview of the Council’s scheme of outside bodies with outside body appointments made by Service Committees according to alignment of the outside body with the Committee’s terms of reference. Where there is no obvious alignment the appointment is made by Audit Governance and Standards Committee.

5.   That the functions of the Democracy Committee relating to the determination of an appeal against a decision made by or on behalf of the authority where there is a statutory appeals procedure and no other panel or Sub-Committee is appropriate elsewhere be transferred to the Urgency Committee.

6.   That any consequential necessary amendments to the Council’s Constitution are made.

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Democracy Committee

14 March 2018

Council

11 April 2018



DECOMMISSIONING of democracy committee

 

 

 

1.   INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

1.1     Councillor Harper has requested that the Democracy Committee consider decommissioning the Committee and distributing its functions to other Committees of the Council. The reason given was that agendas for this committee tended to be light, and it was felt that the functions of the Committee could easily be distributed to other existing Committees of the Council.

 

Current Terms of Reference of the Democracy Committee

The current terms of reference for Democracy Committee are outlined below:

Membership: 9 Councillors

Purpose: To be responsible for Councillor training and development; to determine matters relating to elections, electoral registration; and other democratic services responsibilities and functions, including reviewing this constitution on a regular basis.

 

 

FUNCTIONS

DELEGATION OF FUNCTIONS

1.   To recommend to the Council the

 

appointment of an Electoral Registration

N/A

Officer and Returning Officer.

 

2.   To consider any matters relating to

Electoral Registration

electoral registration, elections or electoral

Officer or Returning

boundaries which have not been delegated

Officer.

to the Electoral Registration Officer or

 

Returning Officer.

 

3.   To consider matters relating to the

N/A

Mayoralty or Councillors generally, where

 

appropriate.

 


4.   To appoint Council nominees to outside

N/A

bodies and seminars as appropriate.

 

5.   To be responsible for the appointment of

N/A

independent persons to the Independent

 

Remuneration Panel for Councillors’

 

Allowances.

 

6.   Consider applications from persons wishing

N/A

to act as Independent Persons in

 

connection with Councillor and Statutory

 

Officer conduct; and for the Independent

 

Remuneration Panel and make

 

recommendations to Council to appoint

 

such persons.

 

7.   To advise Councillors and the Head of

Human Resources Shared Service on

Councillor development priorities where

appropriate.

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

 

 

8.   To regularly review the Constitution in

The Monitoring Officer

conjunction with the Monitoring Officer and

may make changes to

recommend proposed changes, where

the Constitution which

significant, to the Council.

are necessitated by

 

decisions which remove

 

inconsistency or

 

ambiguity; which are

 

minor; or to effect

 

changes in the law.

 

9.   The determination of an appeal against any

 

Panel of 3 Councillors

decision made by or on behalf of the

 

authority where there is a statutory

 

appeals procedure and no other panel or

 

Sub-Committee is appropriate elsewhere

 

under this Part of the Constitution.

 

 

1.2     In order to decommission Democracy Committee, its functions in the table above could be split between the following Committees:


Committee

Function

Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

1,2,3,5,6,8

Employment Committee

7

Urgency Committee

9

Relevant Committee

4






1.3     The functions specified as relevant for the Audit Governance and Standards Committee would fit well with its role of ensuring good corporate governance at the Council, and would broaden its remit in order to take strategic decisions on governance.
 

1.4     Employment Committee, before the creation of Democracy Committee, used to advise the Head of the Human Resources Shared Service (function 7) on Members’ professional development. Therefore it would be appropriate for it to carry out this function again.

1.5     Function 9 has never been used since it has been put into place. In reality the majority of statutory appeals would have a relevant sub-committee to make a decision, as specified in the Constitution. If this provision was moved to another Committee, it could be controversial to choose three councillors from the Committee to carry out this function, depending on the nature of the appeal. Therefore it is felt that it is appropriate to move this function over to the Urgency Committee, which consists of the Group Leaders.

1.6     Function 4 of the Democracy Committee allows it to nominate to outside bodies. At the Council meeting of 28 February 2018, postponed to 7 March 2018, Council was recommended that the following outside bodies be appointed/monitored by Democracy Committee:

            Allington Millenium Green Trust
            Headcorn Aerodrome Consultative Committee

            Howard de Walden Centre

            Hayle Park Nature Reserve

            Maidstone Street Pastors

            Maidstone Relief in Need Charities

            Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel

            Kent and Medway Economic Partnership

            West Kent Health and Wellbeing Board

1.7     As the Council meeting was postponed to 7 March 2018, which was after the publication date for this Committee, an update will be provided to the Committee on any amendments to the list of outside bodies assigned to Democracy Committee that Council made.

1.8     The outside bodies referred to in function 4 will need to be allocated to a different Committee if Democracy Committee is decommissioned. Below is a table suggesting the recommended Committee for them to be assigned to, based on the terms of reference of the Committee and the purpose of the outside body.

 

Outside Body

Suggested Committee

Allington Millenium Green Trust

Heritage, Culture and Leisure

Headcorn Aerodrome Consultative Committee

Policy and Resources

Howard de Walden Centre

Communities, Housing and Environment

Hayle Park Nature Reserve

Heritage, Culture and Leisure

Maidstone Street Pastors

Communities, Housing and Environment

Maidstone Relief in Need Charities

Communities, Housing and Environment

Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel

Communities, Housing and Environment

Kent and Medway Economic Partnership

Communities, Housing and Environment

West Kent Health and Wellbeing Board

Communities, Housing and Environment

 

1.9     Any future review of Outside Bodies would be best allocated to the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee, as this would fit well with the Committee’s remit of keeping an overview of governance as a whole, and of the Constitution.

 

2.        AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

2.1     Democracy Committee could choose to retain the current arrangements (‘do nothing’).

 

2.2     Democracy Committee could recommend the decommissioning of Democracy Committee and proposed amendments to the terms of reference of Committees.

 

2.3     Democracy Committee could recommend the decommissioning of Democracy Committee but choose to amend the terms of reference of Committees in a different way, as long as all of the functions of Democracy Committee were allocated to other existing Committees.

 

2.4     Democracy Committee could choose to amend the choice of Committees to replace Democracy Committee appointments to Outside Bodies.

 

 

3.        PREFERRED OPTION AND REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

3.1     The preferred option is 2.2, as this conforms with a member suggestion and it ensures that all of the areas the Democracy Committee is responsible for are accounted for within the terms of reference of existing Committees.

 

 

4.       RISK

4.1    The proposals within this report will not increase or reduce risks to the Council as it is proposing to re-allocate responsibilities for functions within the Constitution and not remove or add to these functions.

4.2        The risks associated with this proposal, including the risks if the Council does not act as recommended, have been considered in line with the Council’s Risk Management Framework. We are satisfied that the risks associated are within the Council’s risk appetite and will be managed as per the Policy.

5.       CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

5.1     The suggestion for this proposal was discussed by Group Leaders, and was formally requested to be placed on the agenda of Democracy Committee by Councillor Harper.

 

 

6.       NEXT STEPS: COMMUNICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECISION

 

6.1     Any recommendation to Council from this Committee will be considered at the Council meeting on 11 April for final decision.

 

 

7.       CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

We do not expect the recommendations will by themselves materially affect achievement of corporate priorities.  However, they will support the Council’s overall achievement of its aims as set out in section 3.

Democratic & Administration Services Manager

Risk Management

Refer to section 4.

Democratic & Administration Services Manager

Financial

A reduction in the number of Committees will generate a modest saving in printing and similar costs which will contribute towards the Council’s existing savings targets for 2018/19.

Finance Team and S 151 Officer

Staffing

No implications.

 

Democratic & Administration Services Manager

Legal

 Under Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972 the Council may arrange for the discharge of any of their functions by a committee, a sub-committee or an officer of the authority. Section 102 of the Act allows for the establishment of committees to fulfil functions under Section 101.

 

Sections 15 – 17 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 require political balance on committees and impose a duty on the Council to allocate seats to political groups.

If any of the recommendations within the report are accepted it will be necessary for the Council’s Constitution to be amended accordingly.

 

 Keith Trowell, Interim Team Leader (Corporate Governance)

Privacy and Data Protection

 There are no specific privacy or data protection issues to address.

 

 Keith Trowell, Interim Team Leader (Corporate Governance)

Equalities

No implications.

Democratic & Administration Services Manager

Crime and Disorder

No implications.

Democratic & Administration Services Manager

Procurement

No implications.

Democratic & Administration Services Manager

 

8.        REPORT APPENDICES

 

None

 

 

9.        BACKGROUND PAPERS

 

None

 

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