Cabinet and scrutiny committee reports
The Leader of the Council and the chairman of the scrutiny committee to report on recent activities, followed by questions from members. Depending on time the chairman will rule and only take one question per member relating to reports.
a) Cabinet – Councillor Patrick Molyneux
b) Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Councillor Philip Burford
Cllr Molyneux reminded members that minutes were available for those who wanted more detail and invited questions.
Cllr Gardiner asked why members had not been sent a hard copy of the Cinderford regeneration prospectus.
Cllr Molyneux replied that the prospectus had only been released recently and was available on the council’s website.
The chairman confirmed that all members had been emailed a link to the prospectus.
Cllr Thomson asked why Cllrs Hale and Quaile had been appointed to the joint waste committee by the cabinet and not Full Council.
The Solicitor to the Council explained that the cabinet was responsible in law for specified functions, including waste collection. The cabinet had delegated that function to another public body.
Cllr Evans said that members had been told at the presentation regarding the regeneration that they would receive a hard copy of the presentation. He had found it galling to read the detail in the local newspaper.
Cllr Molyneux replied that it had been important that the members were the first to see the presentation as a preview and the council wanted to present the scheme in the best possible way to attract developers to bring investment to the district. The prospectus was a glossy document, which was expensive to print. If members wanted a hard copy, he urged them to pass it on to potential investors after reading it. A copy would be placed in the members’ room.
b) Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Cllr Burford, chairman of the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee, reminded members that the committee’s next meeting would be held on 19 July at 6pm in Lydney Town Hall and invited all to attend.
Cllr Hiett, referring to item 5, asked how the council would be watching and listening to the development of the County Traffic Management Agreement.
Cllr Burford said that the fact that the issue was on the committee’s agenda reflected its importance and the committee would expect to be kept up to date. Committee members would have raised issues if they arose; further detail could be found in the minutes.
The Strategic Director confirmed that officers from the council were in contact with the county council.
Cllr Horne asked how much the committee meeting would cost to run in Lydney.
Cllr Burford answered that there would be a small hire cost and that travel costs would even out.
The chairman said that it was a great way to involve the people of Lydney, but sadly he was unable to attend.
Cllr Birch asked about scrutiny’s involvement regarding the benefits shared service on agenda page 44.
Cllr Burford answered that the committee had been aware that the issue was on the horizon and that it was a major piece of work. It had asked for the report, so that scrutiny members were aware of what was going to happen before a decision was made.
Cllr McMahon asked scrutiny to look at the issue of future governance options, since he believed that the current Governance Options Group was not working, with re-arranged meetings and other matters slowing down proceedings.
Cllr Burford explained that the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered the issue and concluded that it would have been wrong to hold a scrutiny inquiry, as that would have excluded the five executive members. It was important that the Leader of the Council be involved in the group.
Cllr McMahon asked if the cabinet members did not have a vested interest in keeping the current arrangements, since they received allowances for their roles.
Cllr Burford accepted that it was one point of view, but reminded members that Full Council had made the decision to set up the politically balanced task group and he had been happy to go along with that. As the chairman of the scrutiny committee he said that he himself had the same vested interest, because, at one extreme, councils returning to the committee system could decide that there was no longer a need for a scrutiny function.
The chairman reminded members that any councillor was welcome to attend and listen to the deliberations of the Governance Options Group and he asked Democratic Services to circulate a list of all meeting dates for the group.
Cllr Molyneux said that even under a committee system chairmen still received allowances similar to this council’s cabinet allowances, citing South Gloucestershire. It was a fallacy to suggest that cabinet members only undertook their roles for financial gain. He asked members to compare the allowance against time spent on council duties for cabinet members and some members who only attended Full Council meetings. He confirmed that the Governance Options Group would bring forward a recommendation that would be the best way for this council going forward.
Cllr Diana Edwards said that some previous comments had been flippant and ill informed. She believed that the Governance Options Group took its work very seriously.
Cllr Smart reminded members that the Governance Options Group’s work was not in the scrutiny report. There would be an all-member briefing on 1 August when a questionnaire would be circulated to all members. On 10 September the Governance Options Group would meet to consider members’ responses ready for a report back to Full Council on 11 October 2012.
Cllr O’Neill asked if the report back from trade unions regarding the Single Status work (agenda page 45, paragraph 9) would be to the scrutiny committee.
Cllr Burford replied that the trade unions would give their views to the officer group working on the project. He would expect scrutiny to consider the issue again before the final report went to the cabinet
The Head of Paid Service confirmed for Cllr Hiett that an update report would be presented to the Staff Joint Consultative Panel the following week.