Agenda and draft minutes

General Purposes Committee
Tuesday, 12th January 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Link: Click to view live meeting from 6.00pm on 12 January 2021

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chair and Vice Chair

To note the appointments made by Council at the Annual Meeting on 1 June 2020:-

 

  • Chair – Councillor Williams
  • Vice Chair – Councillor Taylor

Minutes:

The Committee noted the appointments made by Annual Council of Councillor Williams as Chair and Councillor Taylor as Vice-Chair of the Committee.

 

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

To receive from Members, declarations of the existence of any disclosable pecuniary, or non-pecuniary, interests and the nature of those interests in relation to any agenda item. Please see Agenda Notes.

Minutes:

During Item 7, Councillor Taylor declared a personal interest as grammar schools were mentioned and he is employed at one.

 

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 323 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chair in due course.

 

4.

Public Question Time (15 minutes)

To receive any questions from members of the public provided that a question does not relate to:

 

·         Matters which are the subject of current or pending legal proceedings, or

·         Matters relating to employees or former employees of the Council or comments in respect of individual Council Officers

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

 

5.

Petitions and Deputations (15 minutes)

To receive any petitions and deputations provided that no such petition or deputation is in relation to:

 

·         Matters relating to individual Council Officers, or

·         Matters relating to current or pending legal proceedings

Minutes:

There were no petitions and deputations.

 

 

6.

Constitutional Changes pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Paid Service concerning a number of proposed changes to the council’s Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Head of Paid Service concerning the proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution to reflect a change to the functions of full Council and reviews in relation to the Codes of Practice relating to Planning and Licensing.

 

The Managing Director explained that he chairs an officer Corporate Governance Group that consists of statutory and key officers of the Council.  One role of the Group is to review the Constitution and ensure relevant parts of the document had been updated.

 

The group had asked the Business Transformation Manager (Planning) and the City Centre Manager to review the Codes of Practice relating to Planning & Development and Licensing & Enforcement respectively to ensure the Codes were up to date and in line with best practice.  Both officers had presented their proposed amendments for the Committee to consider and recommend to Council for approval.

 

The Managing Director added that an addition to Council Functions had been proposed as shown on page 16 of the report.  Given the recent experience with Saintbridge Trust, it was felt beneficial for matters relating to the functions of the Council acting as a Trustee be explicitly referenced in the Constitution.

 

The Business Transformation Manager (Planning) outlined the main amendments in the revised version of the Planning and Development Code of Practice. She advised that the current Code had been in place since 2012 but did not reflect the current legislation. Amendments had been made to ensure continuity and the Introduction had been revised to clarify the status in relation to the Councillor Code of Conduct and the Employee Code of Conduct.

 

Reference to specific development plans had been removed and recent policies now included. The main change had been the inclusion of a Protocol for Planning Site Visits. This had been in place since 2017 and following a Local Government Peer Review, and it was appropriate to include this in the Code of Practice.

 

Councillor Coole raised concerns that it had been difficult to read the document due to the number of tracked changes that had been made. He asked why each reference made to ‘Member’ had been changed to ‘Councillor’.

 

The Business Transformation Manager (Planning) advised that this change had been made to ensure consistency throughout the Constitution.   She added that discussions had taken place to present Members with a schedule of amendments, however it had been agreed to present the document with tracked changes to allow Members to identify the amendments which had been made.

 

A number of members of the Committee agreed they found it difficult to fully assess the proposed changes with the amendments set out in the current format. Members requested a clean version of the new Code with the proposed amendments to be circulated, along with the existing version and a further meeting of the Committee be arranged.

 

The Business Transformation Manager (Planning) had prepared both versions and would circulate these to the Committee for their approval.

 

The Corporate Director advised the Committee that the report was due  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Review of Appointments to and Representation on Outside Bodies pdf icon PDF 280 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director and Monitoring Officer concerning appointments to Outside Bodies.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Corporate Director and Monitoring Officer concerning appointments to Outside Bodies.

 

The Corporate Director advised that the matter had arisen from the Audit & Governance Committee Work Programme. The Committee had requested a review to be undertaken to examine the Council’s operation and effectiveness of appointments to Outside Bodies and if further improvements could be made to the process.

 

Councillors Wilson, D. Norman and Hampson had met with a number of representatives of Outside Bodies to gather information. A number of Outside Bodies had also been invited to attend the Audit and Governance Committee as part of the review process.

 

The report covered 3 areas for recommendation. The first finding showed that the City Council did not provide enough guidance and advice to manage the expectations of Outside Bodies and help Members be effective in their role.  A draft guidance note had now been produced to help representatives on Outside Bodies. This would be included in the Constitution following the Council’s endorsement of the guidance.

 

The second issue looked into the mechanisms in place to allow Councillors to report back on their work as appointees to Outside Bodies. The findings showed there had been a form of disengagement in this area. Following appointments made at Annual Council and there had been no feedback given on the work undertaken. 

 

The three new mechanisms proposed consisted of the following:

 

1.    Produce an annual report – a template would be supplied to each representative on Outside Bodies to provide an update on the work they are undertaken

 

2.    Provide a 15 minute slot at Council meetings to allow representatives on Outside Bodies to give an update on their work

 

3.    Open invitation to all Outside Bodies to share their work which can be included in the Members’ Bulletin

 

The Corporate Director referred to paragraph 3.10 of the report relating to the membership on Outside Bodies and outlined the proposed changes to appointments in respect of specific Outside Body. 

 

Councillor Stephens raised concerns due to the substantial changes in the role of Councillors on Outside Bodies and commented this would be unfair to impose restrictions on the existing Members who had taken on the role. He suggested periodic reports should  be presented to Overview & Scrutiny rather than Council.

 

Councillor Hilton commented that allowing a representative from an Outside Body to provide an update at a Council meeting would be beneficial.  He referred to Llanthony Secunda Trust and the Gloucester United Schools Charity, which he believed were both important Trusts to retain and suggested these are included in Group B.

 

Councillor D Norman commented that as a member of the Audit and Governance Committee he had been involved in the process of interviewing a number of outside bodies and representatives.  He agreed with Councillor Stephens that the agendas for Council meetings would need to be carefully managed by the Democratic Services Team to ensure space for Outside Body updates unduly extending meetings.

 

He added that following interviews with the Outside  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.