Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Katrina Bell 0208 583 2072 Email: katrina.bell@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

35.

Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received by Councillor Jagdish Sharma

 

In the absence of Councillor Sharma, the Chair of the Working Group, it was proposed by Councillor Ruth Cadbury, seconded by Councillor John Chatt and

 

RESOLVED –

 

That Councillor John Chatt chair the meeting

 

Following a question from Councillor John Todd, it was clarified that although he had been elected vice-chair of the Working Party at its first meeting, this had been in the municipal year 2012-13.  No vice-chair has been elected for the body during the current municipal year.

 

There were no declarations of interest.

36.

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 January 2014 and matters arising pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Minutes:

It was

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the minutes of the meeting Members Constitution Working Party held on 22nd January 2014 be agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

37.

Substitutes on Committees Report pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Minutes:

The Working Party considered the report and the following points and clarifications were made during the debate:

·        Substitute Members cannot have Special Responsibility Allowances

·        The process would help to avoid inquorate meetings, although this was not a regular problem for the Borough.

·        There were some concerns that it might encourage primary members to take less responsibility for attending meetings to which they were appointed, but it was noted that this could happen anyway and would be a matter for the whips

·        The use of substitutes was not uncommon in London Boroughs

·        It was useful for all political groups on the council.

·        Substitute members would not have a full understanding of a committee courtesy of not regularly attending

·        It would engage a wider number of councillors on a greater number of bodies which would help developmentally for all members learning (and getting experience) of bodies and their areas of work with which they may not previously had much experience.  It was also likely to be particularly useful for newly elected members to help them understand the breadth of the council’s work and services through actual involvement, hence the wish to introduce this process immediately after the election.

·        Making all members substitutes on the corporate parenting panel would also help develop members’ sense of their statutory responsibility for this function.

·        Where possible, substitute members should be appointed at the AGM and not at other times of the year.

 

Whilst not all the members on the Working Party supported the proposals, it was agreed that the proposals should be presented to each party group so that they could comment back to the next meeting of the Working Party on 4th April 2014. If the Working Party then agreed the proposal, it could be agreed and introduced at the annual meeting of the Council in June.

 

It was also agreed by the Working Party that if the proposals were to be agreed by the Council, the following should be considered:

·        Substitutes should be permitted for all bodies except:

o       Cabinet or its sub-bodies

o       Standards Committee

o       Licensing bodies

o       Pensions Sub-Committee (as members on that undertake to do it for four years)

·        Any system of substitutes could be “piloted” in a few committees for the first few months of the new council year and then the council could make a decision on whether or not to continue and to expand the number of bodies with substitute members.

·        The Planning Committee should have the same number of substitutes as primary members to stop meetings being compromised by members being unable to sit due to conflicts of interests. This would also help extend the knowledge of planning matters (as substitute members would need to be trained) into other bodies such as area forums and reduce the need for changing memberships throughout the year.

 

It was therefore

 

RESOLVED –

 

That Party Groups be asked to consider the report and comment back to the Chief Executive or the Head of Democratic Services with their thoughts so  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Outside Bodies Report pdf icon PDF 197 KB

Minutes:

The Working Party considered the report and in addition to making comments on some specific outside bodies, it made the following observations:

·        The implications for members appointed to those bodies requiring appointees to be charity trustees needed to be considered and appropriate training and support for such appointees should be given, particularly given the legal requirement that trustees only consider their responsibilities in the light of the needs of the body to which they have been appointed, rather than that which appointed them.

·        Some bodies where the Council no longer wishes to make appointments might have governing bodies which require a council appointee and so there might be a need to negotiate to resolve this discrepancy which could take some time, particularly if the Charity Commission’s approval was required.

·        It was not always clear what the reason that a council appointees was needed beyond custom and practice.

·        It might be appropriate for more non-councillor appointees to be made

·        Were there alternative and better ways of engaging such as providing charities and outside organisations named councillor links who were not appointed to the body itself.  This could be supported by the Community Investment and Cohesion Team and could actually enhance community engagement.

·        It was likely that there would be a need for enhanced officer involvement from across the Authority to support members in relation to outside bodies.

·        There certain bodies which it was important remained as outside bodies to which the council appointed members such as the two crematoria, the West London Waste Authority, etc

·        Similarly, bodies related to property or assets in which the Council had a stake should remain such as Chiswick Pier.

·        Officers should be asked to feedback on whether each outside body had relevance to the Council’s work.

·        Whilst there was no prohibition on member appointees to outside bodies where they were trustees, they needed to be aware that they were personally liable for any costs relating to the body and would not be supported by the Council.

·        Members needed to be help to understand their role on each body appointed to.

 

The Working Party decided that the list should be further revised by the appropriate officers for consideration at the next meeting of the Working Party on 4th April 2014, with a view to a shorter list of bodies being considered by the annual meeting of the Council in June, and a better understanding by appointees of what was required of them.  It decided that the Party Groups on the Council should be asked to inform this process but expressing its views on bodies in the list.

 

It was therefore

 

RESOLVED -

 

That Party Groups be asked to consider the report and comment back to the Chief Executive or the Head of Democratic Services with any particularly strong views about which outside bodies the Council should continue to appoint to so that these could be included in the report to be considered by the next meeting of the Members Constitution Working Party in April.

 

ACTION  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

Future of the Members Constitution Working Party Report pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Minutes:

Members considered the report and made thanked officers for their hard work in helping members to complete a significant workload in relation to revising and improving the constitution.

 

Councillor John Todd expressed the view that the name of the Members Constitution Working Party should not be altered as it clearly described the nature of the body.

 

It was then

 

RESOLVED –

 

·        That the contents of the report identifying the successful programme of work undertaken and completed by the Working Party be noted; and

·        Recommend to the Council that the Committee be re-established in the new council term with expanded terms of reference.

 

ACTION BY: Head of Democratic Services

40.

Any other matters which the Chair considers urgent

Minutes:

There were no such items.

41.

Date of next meeting is 4 April 2014

Minutes:

The Working Party noted that the next meeting was scheduled for 4th April 2014.

 

The meeting ended at 4.35 pm.