Agenda and minutes
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To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 September 2020 (Minute Nos. 103 - 106) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 September 2020 (Minute Nos. 103 - 106) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
The Chairman explained that the meeting would be conducted in accordance with the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panel (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Policy and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 No. 392.
In welcoming all Members and members of the public, the Chairman explained which Swale Borough Council officers were in attendance.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves or their spouse, civil partner or person with whom they are living with as a spouse or civil partner. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
The Chairman will ask Members if they have any interests to declare in respect of items on this agenda, under the following headings:
(a) Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI) under the Localism Act 2011. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DPI, the Member must leave the meeting and not take part in the discussion or vote. This applies even if there is provision for public speaking.
(b) Disclosable Non Pecuniary (DNPI) under the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council in May 2012. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DNPI interest, the Member may stay, speak and vote on the matter.
(c) Where it is possible that a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts would conclude that there was a real possibility that the Member might be predetermined or biased the Member should declare their predetermination or bias and then leave the meeting while that item is considered.
Advice to Members: If any Councillor has any doubt about the existence or nature of any DPI or DNPI which he/she may have in any item on this agenda, he/she should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Head of Legal or from other Solicitors in Legal Services as early as possible, and in advance of the Meeting.
No interests were declared.
The Deputy Leader and the Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Services have been invited to attend for this item.
The Cabinet Member for Planning introduced the report and said that the proposal to introduce Cabinet Advisory Committees was to encourage more Member involvement in decision-making. He said that it could be the first step towards an all-out Committee system and would enable Members from across the Borough to make contributions. He welcomed Members’ suggestions and comments and referred to the bullet points at paragraph 3.11 on page 5 of the report as potential discussion points. The Monitoring Officer added that the Cabinet Advisory Committees would be similar to the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) and Members might wish to consider what had worked well in that Committee and carry that forward.
In the debate that followed, Members raised points including:
· Were the pairings of meetings suggested in the report the best fit?;
· some portfolios needed their own committee;
· would the meetings be public?;
· what was the role of the Deputy Cabinet Member?;
· there was a conflict if a Cabinet Member sat on the Committee;
· should the committees be politically-balanced?;
· needed to consider the impact on staff resource with even more Committees;
· the work of the PDRC went wider than the Cabinet Advisory Committees might;
· were SBC moving to the Committee system as this was ‘mix and match?’.
· this was a good opportunity to increase decision-making for all Members;
· there were lots of complexities to work out and suggested a Working Group;
· rather than remove PDRC and introduce Cabinet Advisory Committees, suggested increasing the membership on PDRC;
· quarterly meetings might not work for all topics;
· what was the time scale for considering the set up of the meetings?;
· needed to consider the balance of topics on each agenda;
· was PDRC needed in addition to Cabinet Advisory Committees?; and
· would the chairman of each Cabinet Advisory Committee be allocated a Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA)?.
Members discussed which pairings of portfolios went well together and whether some portfolio areas might need their own Committee.
In response to the issues raised, the Cabinet Member for Planning said there were pros and cons for PDRC, and for Cabinet Advisory Committees and he said that at other authorities, some Cabinet Members were Chairman or attended the Cabinet Advisory Committee meetings. He added that when the Constitution Review was discussed in June 2019, many Members were in favour of a hybrid Committee structure and this was a stepping stone to the Committee system as many Councillors were new and inexperienced. The Cabinet Member for Planning said that policies would be discussed earlier in the process and there would be more input from back benchers. He confirmed the meetings would be public meetings and said that each Chairman should receive an SRA. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that the Committees would be established as a politically-balanced committee and advised on the process and timeline of the proposal of the Cabinet Advisory Committees, to be considered by Full Council, early in 2021.
Councillor Mike Dendor proposed the setting up of a Working Group to discuss the detail and ... view the full minutes text for item 190.