Venue: Civic Suite, North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EP
Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services
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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.
7.1 There were no declarations of interest.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 19 June 2023.
8.1 The minutes of the meeting held on 19 June 2023 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Public Question Time (15 minutes)
The opportunity is given to members of the public to put questions to Cabinet Members or Committee Chairs. Questions mays provided that questions do not contravene the provisions set out Council Procedure Rule 10(2).
To ask a question at this meeting, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 noon on Friday 5 January 2023 or telephone 01452 396203 for support.
9.1 There were no public questions.
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
10.1 There were no petitions and deputations.
To consider the report of the Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel concerning the review of Members’ allowances and seeking a decision on an appropriate scheme for the payment of allowances in 2024-25.
11.1 Mr Graham Russell, Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel presented the report. He advised that the Panel had undertaken a minor review following a detailed review of Members’ allowances in 2023 and had identified a number of recommendations, summarised as follows:
· The Basic Allowance and Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for the Vice Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were both reviewed, but no changes were proposed at this time; however, the Panel reasserted the recommendation that any flat rate pay increase awarded to officers should be applied to Members’ allowances.
· A new structure for the SRAs for Group Leaders and Deputy Group Leaders was proposed, which would also see the deletion of the two Opposition Group maximum, making these those SRAs available to any number of Groups. The Panel agreed that all political Group Leaders had an important and equal role to play in the good governance of the Council. On that basis they had recommended that each Group Leader and Deputy Group Leader should receive an equal amount to reflect that contribution, supplemented by a variable amount according to group size. The Panel had determined a set of figures and bands for the variable element which they believed to be appropriate and could be applied to any future political composition of the Council.
· The Panel had noted the limited take up of the dependent and childcare allowances available to support Councillors fulfil their Council commitments. Mr Russell noted that this was a national issue, due in part to the required annual publication of allowances received. Despite this, the Panel were keen to ensure that those allowances were reflective of the real costs incurred, and therefore recommended that they be increased to a more realistic figure, which could assist with removing the barriers for those interested in standing for election.
11.2 Councillor Hilton asked how the Panel had arrived at the bands for the Group Leader and Deputy Group Leader allowance and noted that he would have opted for 2-4, 5-11 and 12-19. Mr Russell explained that, while the Panel considered the proposed bands to be reasonable, they were not wedded to them and would not object if the Council decided to adjust them.
11.3 Councillor Williams commented there was a lack of awareness of the dependent and childcare allowances amongst some Councillors. With the upcoming elections, Councillor Williams suggested that prospective candidates should be informed of the allowances available to them by the respective political Groups.
11.4 The Chair commented that the childcare allowance had also seen a low take up, but welcomed the recommendation that it be amended to ensure that it always reflected the living wage. He added that political Groups do encourage their Members to take advantage of the allowances made available to them, but that a lot of Councillors rely on family and friends to provide childcare cover so that they don’t claim expenses.
11.5 Mr Russell advised that the next full review would be undertaken in 2027 however the Scheme would continue ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
The consider the report of the Returning Officer concerning the recommendations for the compulsory Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places.
12.1 The Committee considered the report of the Returning Officer concerning the recommendations for the compulsory Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places.
12.2 The Policy and Governance Manager summarised the report as follows:
· The review had followed the same process as previous reviews, with increased emphasis on accessibility as required by the Elections Act 2022 and an additional aim of identifying alternative locations for any schools which were currently used as polling stations.
· A full assessment had been conducted of each existing and proposed polling station and a public consultation had taken place, resulting in valuable input from Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council.
· No changes were proposed to polling district boundaries, however the Returning Officer proposed to change five polling places, three of which were joint stations and therefore a total of eight polling districts would be affected by the proposed changes; in each case, Ward Councillors had been consulted and those who had responded supported the proposed changes.
· It had not been possible to provide suitable alternatives for all the schools used as polling districts, however, four of the five proposed venue changes had been moved away from a school or an educational setting.
· A further interim review would take place after the May 2024 elections to implement any changes required by the Review of the Gloucestershire County Council Division boundaries.
12.3 Councillor Williams welcomed the new venues that moved polling places away from schools as it could be very disruptive to both schools and families when the school had to close for elections.
12.4 General Purposes Committee RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND to Council that:
(1) The following proposals from the Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places Review be approved:
a. That the polling station BT3 be moved to the Ukrainian Association.
b. That the polling station E3 and KW3 be moved to Gloucester Old Boys RFC.
c. That the polling station H1 and H2 be moved to St Philip and St James’ Church.
d. That the polling station M3 and M4 be moved to The Chapel, Seymour Road.
e. That the polling station W2 be moved to St Mary’s Congregational Church.
(2) Where a decision is required at short notice and it is not possible to await a decision of Council, power to designate polling places in accordance with section 18 and 18B of the Representation of the People Act 1983 be delegated to the Managing Director following consultation with Group Leaders and the relevant Ward Councillors.
To consider the report of the Head of Paid Service regarding various changes to the Council’s Constitution.
13.1 The Committee considered the report of the Head of Paid Service concerning the proposed changes to the Officer Code of Conduct and the Planning Committee Functions. The report also sought authority to update the Council Procedure Rules in relation to Questions by the Public Question; Petitions and Deputations from the Public; questions by Members and Motions on Notice.
13.2 The Monitoring Officer presented the report and provided a summary of the proposed changes as follows:
13.3 Officer Code of Conduct
· The Officer Code of Conduct had been updated to reflect the changes made to the Members’ Code of Conduct in 2023, including mirroring the duty placed on Members to act in a professional manner to maintain public confidence in the Council as a whole.
· Further clarification of the expectations relating to personal relationships between Officers and Officers and Members had been included.
· Provisions relating to the use of substances which could have an impact on Officers’ ability to carry out their role had been reinforced.
· It was proposed that provisions relating to secondary employment be extended from Officer at an F Grade and above only to all officers as the Council had a duty to take reasonable measures to protect the wellbeing of all of its staff.
· Expectations of Officers in relation to the use of Council facilities and systems, as well as social media, had been updated.
13.4 The Monitoring Officer noted that any changes to the Code would be subject to agreement with the Trade Unions and a meeting had been scheduled to discuss this with them.
13.5 In response to a question from the Chair relating to secondary employment to those Officers on Grade F, the Policy and Governance Manager advised that this grade included some Team Leaders and some below Team Leader level.
13.6 The Monitoring Officer added while some Council’s prohibited any secondary employment, others permitted it but required all staff to obtain permission from the Council. She advised that guidance would provided to those responsible for determining requests to ensure that the individual’s wellbeing was a factor in consideration.
13.7 In response to a question from the Chair enquiring whether any Officers currently engage in secondary employment, the Monitoring Officer confirmed that there were Officers who held two jobs.
13.8 Councillor Hilton asked how the provisions affect Officers who held a high-level job share position or only worked three days a week due to a secondary employment. The Monitoring Officer advised that the decision would be made by the employee’s Line Manager and would be part of their terms and conditions. The Secondary Employment Policy would be secondary to any signed contract between the City Council and the employee.
13.9 The Committee confirmed its support for the revised Officer Code of Conduct.
13.10 Changes to Functions of Planning Committee
· Where a Section 106 was required, it would only be required for the delivery of onsite affordable housing, these would not automatically be referred to Committee. 40% of the housing would be required to ... view the full minutes text for item 13.