Hounslow Council


Agenda, decisions and minutes

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

Contact: Irene Bowles, Email: irene.bowles@hounslow.gov.uk, 020 8583 2075 

Items
No. Item

14.

Election of Chair and Vice Chair

Decision:

Councillor Steve Curran was elected Chair.

Councillor Amritpal Mann was elected Vice Chair.

Minutes:

Councillor Steve Curran was elected Chair.

Councillor Amritpal Mann was elected Vice Chair.

15.

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

Decision:

Apologies for absence had been received from Thomas Ribbitts.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Thomas Ribbitts.

16.

Minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2014 and matters arising pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Decision:

The minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2014 were agreed as a true and accurate record, and were signed by the Chair.

 

Members asked that Ainsley Gilbert be thanked for producing excellent minutes for the Working Party.

 

There were no matters arising.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2014 were agreed as a true and accurate record, and were signed by the Chair.

 

Members asked that Ainsley Gilbert be thanked for producing excellent minutes for the Working Party.

 

There were no matters arising.

17.

Items to add to the work plan pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Members fully considered the recommendations in the report “Constitutional Update and draft work plan for 2015/16 and resolved that:

 

1.         A recommendation be made to Borough Council to increase the number of authorised individuals who are able to execute documents under the Council’s “common seal” on behalf of the Council; namely:

Members:     Currently Mayor and Deputy Mayor

Add:                All Cabinet members (providing they have not been involved in the decision to enter into the document);

                        Chair of the Audit Committee;

                        Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Officers:        Currently Head of Governance and Deputy Monitoring Officer (in the absence of the Head of Governance

Add:                Section 151 Officer

 

Subject to approval by Borough Council, this should be reviewed after six months.

 

2.      In relation to the draft work plan at Appendix A of the report:

         (1) Key Decision financial threshold – that the Head of Governance should obtain information from other Local Authorities to provide benchmarks; this will be an Agenda item at the next meeting.

 

         (2) Urgency procedure and guidance to officers – that then Head of Governance should finalise the procedure for inclusion in the Constitution.

 

         (3) Leader’s Scheme of Delegation to Directors and Statutory Officersthat anomalies in the Constitution be identified and amended via a report to Borough Council as soon as possible.

 

         (4) Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rulesthat input is sought from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the urgency and call-in sections of their procedure rules for further consideration.  This will be an Agenda item at the next meeting.

 

         (5) Access to Information Procedure Rules – this is linked to item (2), to ensure that statutory requirements are complied with.  This item refers specifically to the advance publication of reports, not Freedom of Information requests, which are being reviewed separately.

 

         (6) Members’ Code of Conduct – this is being considered by the Standards Committee, after which it will return to this Working Party.

 

The draft Work Plan was agreed  by members, and any constitutional changes will be presented to Borough Council. 

 

In response to issues raised by Councillor Sheila O’Reilly, members resolved that:

 

a)         Councillor John Todd will be invited to the next meeting of the Members’ Constitution Working Party, if he remains concerned.

 

b)         Councillor Steve Curran will hold informal discussions with the Labour Group to discuss how to extend citizen engagement, and will give a verbal update at the next meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

Caroline Eaton led members through her report, highlighting the following:

 

a)         Changes required in relation to the Council’s “common seal” and how this is witnessed.

Members noted that there were sometimes operational difficulties, as so few individuals were authorised to execute documents in this way on behalf of the Council.  It was acknowledged that Councillor Smart had executed 650 documents during her time as Mayor.  Members discussed a number of options, noting that the legal team were now based at Harrow.  Members decided to recommend to Borough Council that the numbers be increased to include Cabinet, the Chairs of the Audit Committee and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and the Section 151 Officer.

 

b)        Draft Work Plan at Appendix A.

i) Key decision financial threshold.  Members noted that the financial threshold was currently £250K, and were advised that the average threshold for Local Authorities was in the region of £500K.  Members were advised that there were not a significant number of key decisions taken on the financial threshold; most were due to the decision affecting two or more wards.  Members asked the Head of Governance to obtain more benchmarking information.

 

ii) Urgency procedure and guidance to officers.  Members noted that this information was missing from the Constitution; the Head of Governance would finalise this.

 

iii) Leader’s Scheme of Delegation to Directors and Statutory Officers. Members noted that this was bedded in, but there were some anomalies that needed to be resolved.  This should be ready to go to Borough Council in the near future.

 

iv) Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.  Members noted that there were some anomalies between the Constitution and practice, which needed to be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  Councillor Curran suggested that any member signing a call-in should attend the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, with a right to speak at the discretion of the Chair.  Members would take this as an Agenda item at the next meeting.

 

v) Access to Information Procedure Rules. Members were advised that this item was linked to (ii), and related to advance publication of reports rather than Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests.  The FOI procedure was being reviewed separately by the Customer Relations Team, as there was an issue at present with timely responses to FOIs.  Members discussed the pros and cons of using FOI as a means of obtaining information that could then be disseminated to residents.

 

vi) Members’ Code of Conduct.  Members were aware that the Standards Committee had been reviewing this, and that it only required some minor amendments.  Once the document was agreed by the Standards Committee, it would return to this meeting.

 

 

Members fully considered the recommendations in the report “Constitutional Update and draft work plan for 2015/16 and resolved that:

 

1.         A recommendation be made to Borough Council to increase the number of authorised individuals who are able to execute documents under the Council’s “common seal” on behalf of the Council; namely:

Members:     Currently Mayor and Deputy Mayor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Any other matters which the Chair considers urgent

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

19.

Date of next meeting

13 October 2015

Decision:

Future dates for the Members’ Constitution Working Party (MCWP) and Borough Council are:

 

MCWP

Borough Council

13 October 2015

25 January 2016

18 April 2016

15 September 2015

24 November 2015

26 January 2016

23 February 2016

15 March 2016

19 April 2016

24 May 2016

 

The meeting of the MCWP on 13 October 2015 will take place at 5pm in Committee Room 2.

Minutes:

Future dates for the Members’ Constitution Working Party (MCWP) and Borough Council are:

 

MCWP

Borough Council

13 October 2015

25 January 2016

18 April 2016

15 September 2015

24 November 2015

26 January 2016

23 February 2016

15 March 2016

19 April 2016

24 May 2016

 

The meeting of the MCWP on 13 October 2015 will take place at 5pm in Committee Room 2.