Agenda item

Constitutional Changes

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 be built onsite, with no other contributions, which could be dealt with under delegated powers.

·       Where a Planning Officer recommended a change of use for hot food takeaway, and no objections received during the consultation period, this matter would not be presented to Planning Committee and would result in a recommendation for approval.

·       A Ward Member not be required to complete a pro-forma in order to refer a planning application to Committee, a written request would suffice. 

·       Further clarification was provided in relation to applications where a matter of technical appraisal, fact or legal opinion, or has a fixed determination period meant that it could not be referred to Planning Committee. This was in alignment with neighbouring authorities.



13.11Councillor Wilson asked whether, if no objections were received by members of the public or consultees, would an elected Member still be able be to request that a recommends a change of use for hot food takeaway be presented to Planning Committee.  The Monitoring Officer confirmed that this would be acceptable and did not affect a Ward Members right to refer a decision to Committee. 


13.12The Chair commented that, provided Ward Members ensured objections were received before the end of the consultation period and with valid planning reasons, they could be presented to Planning Committee. The Chair added that a Ward Member could also object to a planning application for a hot food takeaway in their capacity as a member of the public.


13.13The Committee confirmed its support for the proposed changes to the functions of the Planning Committee.


13.14  Changes to the Council Procedure Rules

·       Rule 10 - Questions by Members of the Public – changes proposed to align with the arrangements for Councillors, whereby responses are published in advance and a verbal supplementary question is permitted at the meeting. A new limit of three questions was proposed as the current limit of one question per person as not often enforced.

·       Rule 11 – Petitions and Deputations from the Public – to introduce a notice requirement to ensure that a substantive response could be provided at the meeting and petitions could be handled in accordance with the Council’s Petition Scheme.

·       Rule 12 – Questions by Members – changes proposed to ensure that Group Leader priority for questions to Cabinet Members was applicable to any number of political groups and to confirm a limit of three questions per Member to Chairs of Meetings.

·       Rule 13 – Motions on Notice – options were proposed to handle the recent increase in Motions of Notice, such a limit of the time spent on Motions or a limit on the number of Motions that a Member can move or second, and proposals around the use and retention of other parts of the Rule.


13.15  Councillor Hilton commented that the proposals relating to public questions were sensible and similar to Gloucestershire County Council. He commented that Motions on Notice generally worked well, but highlighted the recent increase in the number submitted for each Council meeting. He advised that he was opposed to any selection process and preferred that Members be limited to moving or seconding three motions per Council meeting, with no time limit imposed. With regard to the use of Rule 13.5, which enabled motions to be referred to other decision-making bodies, Councillor Hilton advised that Members expected their Motions to be debated by Council and the Rule should be deleted.


13.16  Councillor Williams stated that the proposals would help keep the meeting more structured.


13.17  The Chair confirmed his supported for the views expressed by Councillor Hilton.


13.18  With regard to Rule 13.7, which enabled Motions not relevant to the duties and powers of the Council to be ruled out of order, Councillor Wilson urged caution on its use, as it was important that Members could bring Motions forward that acknowledged and showed support for issues that affected communities in Gloucester, including national and international matters.


13.19  Councillors Hilton and Williams echoed Councillor’s Wilson’s comments and Councillor Williams indicated that it was necessary to retain the Rule so that the Head of Paid Service, in consultation with the Mayor, could properly consider the appropriateness of Motions, though this should not prevent Motions on the types of issues highlighted by Councillor Wilson.


13.20  The Chair proposed that Rule 13.7 was retained, but was not used to rule out issues of national of international significance if they affected residents and communities in Gloucester.


13.21  In summary, General Purposes Committee agreed to recommend the following to Council in respect of the Council Procedure Rules:


·        The proposed changes to questions by members of the public;

·        The proposed changes to petitions and deputations by the public;

·        That each Member be permitted to move or second a maximum of three motions at each full Council meeting;

·        Deletion of Rule 13.5.

·        Retention of Rule 13.7, to be utilised appropriately.

·        The proposed changes to the rules relating to disruption by members of the public

·        The proposed changes relating to webcasting and recording meetings.


13.22  The Monitoring Officer undertook to draft the outstanding changes to the Council Procedure Rules ready for consideration by Council.




(1)     That the updated Officer Code of Conduct set out in Appendix 1 is adopted.


(2)     That the updated Planning Committee Functions as set out in Appendix 2 are adopted.


(3)     That the updated Council Procedures Rules 10, 11, 12, 13, 24 and 25 in Part 4 of the Constitution set out in Appendix 3 are adopted, subject to the agreed changes to Rule 13 as summarised at paragraph 7.20 above (bullet points 3, 4 and 5).



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