Meeting documents

General Purposes Committee
Wednesday, 26 January 2011

general purposes committee

MINUTES of the Meeting held in the Committee Room, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne on Wednesday 26th January 2011 from 7:00 pm to 10:02 pm.

Present: Councillor Bowles (Chairman), Councillor Gerry Lewin (Vice-Chairman), Councillors Mike Cosgrove, Duncan Dewar-Whalley, Harrison, Elvina Lowe, Pat Sandle, Ted Wilcox (substitute for Councillor David Simmons) and Worrall.

Officers Present: Katherine Bescoby, Monica Blades-Chase, Abdool Kara and Mark Radford.

Apologies: Councillor David Simmons.



The Minutes of the Meeting held on 28th October 2010 (Minute Nos. 455 - 457) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.


declarations of interest

No interests were declared.


part a minutes for confirmation by council


constitution review

The interim Head of Legal outlined the report to the Committee and explained the way in which the papers had been produced. There were a number of working papers for the Members to also consider which set out advice, and in some instances, more detail of the proposed changes to the Constitution.

The Committee considered the report and appendices page by page. The main points of discussion are set out below.


protocol regarding outside body appointments

A discussion ensued regarding the suggested protocol for making appointments to Outside Bodies, in particular regarding the production of an annual report by those Members appointed; whether those Members who did not produce reports should be entitled to be appointed the subsequent year; and the suggested procedure for reviewing the number and list of appointments to Outside Bodies.


budget and policy framework

The Committee discussed the proposals to amend the Budget and Policy Framework and did not consider that all of the proposed policies should be included in the Budget and Policy Framework.



It was confirmed that there would be further work to develop a protocol for Councillor Call for Action, as part of a wider review of scrutiny arrangements. At this time, however, it was important to make appropriate legislative amendments to the Constitution.


local engagement forums

There was some debate regarding the review of Local Engagement Forums and the results of the survey being made available to all Members.


article 13 - decision making

The interim Head of Legal outlined the power available to allow individual decision making by ward members, and advised that there would need to be further work to develop a protocol if Members were minded to implement such a power. During the discussion, the interim Head of Legal explained the difference between the terms 'Council' and 'Council function' and 'Executive' and 'Executive functions', and advised that a glossary would be included in the Constitution. Members asked that full descriptions were included in future reports.

Members considered that it would be interesting to explore individual decision making further, however, recognised that it should not be the highest priority in the Constitution review.


part 3 - responsibility for functions

Members agreed that it would be useful to have a diagram to show the split between Council, Executive, Scrutiny and Officer functions. It was confirmed that Council functions could only be delegated to a Committee, Sub-Committee or to an Officer; however, Executive functions could be taken by an individual Cabinet Member.

It was suggested that if Group Leaders wished to change their membership to Committees throughout the year, that delegation should be given to the Democratic and Electoral Services Manager to agree such appointments, in consultation with Group Leaders. This was supported as it would avoid the need to wait for approval by full Council.

(Post Meeting Note - it is suggested that the delegation will be added to the interim Head of Legal who will in turn delegate to the Democratic and Electoral Services Manager).


officer delegations

The Committee considered the proposed amendments to Officer delegations page by page, which had been updated to reflect the current structure of the Council, with proposed updates where considered necessary. Several amendments were suggested in respect of the proposed delegations, as set out below.

Chief Executive
No. 2 - to reflect that this applied to staff below Head of Service level, subject to further advice from the interim Head of Legal
No. 14 - addition of the word 'transparency' after 'to deal with...'
No. 23 - this would remain in place but there may be a review of arrangements for conference approval.

No. 2 - addition of the word 'donate or' before 'write off'.
No. 7 - update to reflect any further advice from the interim Head of Legal.

Corporate Services Director
No. 13 - there was discussion regarding this delegation and the impact of the decision at the previous Council meeting regarding the amendment of the Constitution. It was clarified that the intention of Members was for this delegation to remain in place.

Head of Economy and Community Services
Members asked for this list to be reviewed with a view to presenting as delegations rather than a list of tasks for the post.

Head of Planning
No. 2 (d) - addition of the words 'and Members of Staff'.


council procedure rules

There was some discussion regarding the proposal to include a report on a strategic theme at Council meetings, however this was not supported. It was suggested, however, that the current provision for a themed debate should be modified to reflect that a) the timescale for Members to suggest a topic for a themed debate should be moved to the previous Council meeting and b) at the end of the debate, Members may have the opportunity to make a recommendation to the Cabinet or appropriate Committee.

Members did not support the proposal that Members should provide paper copies of any amendment to a motion or recommendations on reports but did agree that there should be a full report on matters that were being recommended to the Council for approval.


attendance at cabinet meetings/access to information procedure rules

The Committee considered the advice of the interim Head of Legal in respect of confidential and exempt information.

Due to the lateness of the meeting, it was agreed that the Committee would consider the remaining business at its next meeting.

(1) That the draft protocol for Outside Body appointments made by the Council be agreed, subject to amendments to reflect that Section 3 has been removed from the proposed Procedure Note; that Group Leaders will consider which bodies appointments should be made to; and that all Members will be required to produce a report which sets out any significant matters and attendance information, otherwise they will not be eligible for appointment to that particular body in the subsequent year.
(2) That the revised Budget and Policy Framework be recommended to Council for approval, subject to the removal of the following: The Housing Strategy and supporting policies or strategies; Workforce (or People) Strategy; Procurement Strategy; Asset Management Plan.
(3) That the legislative changes to the Scrutiny function and the steps being taken to review local arrangements be noted.
(4) That the amendments to Article 6 and Part 3 regarding Scrutiny and Policy Overview functions be recommended to Council.
(5) That the progress in relation to the review of the Local Engagement Forums be noted.
(6) That amendments regarding Article 13 - Decision Making - be recommended to Council and that the work on developing proposals for decision making by ward members be noted.
(7) That the proposed Introduction to Part 3 - Responsibility for Functions - be recommended to Council, subject to an amendment in the Officer Delegations to reflect that the interim Head of Legal will be given delegated authority to agree changes to membership of Committees throughout the year in consultation with the appropriate Group Leader (in practice the interim Head of Legal will delegate this to the Democratic and Electoral Services Manager).
(8) That the Committee recommends an amendment to the Local Choice Functions so that Cabinet makes appointments to Outside Bodies discharging Executive functions.
(9) That the statutory requirements regarding appointment and dismissal of statutory officers and the Employment Procedure Rules be noted and that the amendments proposed be recommended to Council.
(10) That the Committee recommends that the Appointments Committee and the General Purposes Committee be merged, with the current Appointments Committee being a Sub-Committee of the General Purposes Committee, so that all employment matters are dealt with by the same Committee, as appropriate.
(11) That the Committee recommends the revised Terms of Reference and public speaking arrangements for the Hackney Carriage Committee and recommends that this Committee is merged with the General Licensing Committee.
(12) That the status of the Local Engagement Forums, Joint Transportation Board and Swale Rural Forum be noted, and that the amendments to the layout of Part 3 regarding Executive functions be recommended to Council.
(13) That the advice regarding Joint Arrangements be noted and that further work be undertaken to identify those organisations or arrangements falling within that definition, for inclusion in the appropriate parts of the Constitution.
(14) That the principles regarding Officer Delegations be recommended to Council and that the revised Scheme of Officer Delegations, subject to amendments made in the above Minute, be recommended to Council following the restructuring that took place in 2010.
(15) That the Committee recommends to Council that the Council Procedure Rules be updated to amend Council Procedure Rule 19 which allows for a themed topic for debate, to reflect that a) the timescale for Members to suggest a topic for a themed debate should be moved to the previous Council meeting and b) at the end of the debate, Members may have the opportunity to make a recommendation to the Cabinet or appropriate Committee; and to include a provision that referrals from Committees require reports if a recommendation is to be taken by full Council.
(16) That the proposed amendments to the Access to Information Procedure Rules be not approved.
All Minutes are draft until agreed at the next meeting of the Committee/Panel

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