Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Thursday, 31st March, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Suite, Civic Centre, Poole BH15 2RU. View directions

Media

Items
No. Item

95.

Apologies for Absence

To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.

 

Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor D Butt and Councillor Filer.

Substitute Members

Formal notification had been received appointing Councillor T Johnson as substitute for Councillor D Butt and Councillor J Butt as substitute for Councillor Filer.

96.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.

Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

97.

Confirmation of Minutes

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 17 March 2022 (To follow).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting on 17 March 2022 as circulated separately to the Committee were confirmed as a correct record.

98.

Public Issues

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeID=151&Info=1&bcr=1

The deadline for the submission of public questions is 4 clear working days before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is midday the working day before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.

Minutes:

The Committee was advised of the receipt of the following Public Question.

Question

 

PUBLIC QUESTION FOR BCPC AUDIT & GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE MEETING ON 31.3.22

 

SUBJECT:DEFICIENCIES IN DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES RELATING TO PUBLIC ISSUES & AGENDAS, FOLLOWING CONFIRMATION AT THIS COMMITTEE’S MEETING ON 17.3.22 THAT THE COUNCIL’S BROKEN “WEBLINKS” WOULD BE IDENTIFIED WITH URGENCY & RECTIFIED

 

PUBLIC QUESTION

 

Noted that between 22.3.22 & 23.3.22 this Committee’s agenda links were enabled, accessing the lengthily indexed 304 page Constitution but not directly the Public Issues criteria.

Entailing less than immediate transparency regarding a restrictive earlier procedural change: Public Questions submitted to appropriate overseeing Committees/Sub Committees/Cabinet (not the customarily less frequent Full Council) meetings must relate to agenda-specific items usually published the day before submission cut-off.

Will consideration therefore be given to the concern that neither Committees nor public have assured timely awareness of certain issues eg my non-agenda’d accumulating questions regarding significant infractions of law & accounting.

 

Philip Gatrell 24.3.22

 

Response

 

“I would like to thank Mr Gatrell for his question.

“Public participation at council, cabinet or committee meetings is a discretionary facility to allow the public an opportunity to engage with the democratic process.

“The existing arrangements for the submission of questions and statements by the public were adopted by full council following consideration by the Constitution Review Working Group and the Audit and Governance Committee.

“The Constitution should not, as a matter of routine, be constantly reviewed and updated, and members will be aware that a comprehensive review was recently completed and adopted by Council. However, the concerns raised by Mr Gatrell in relation to public questions and statements will be referred to the Constitution Review Working Group for consideration when they next meet. No meetings of the Working Group are currently scheduled but I’d like to assure Mr Gatrell that it will be added to their work programme for consideration.

“Finally, I would like to invite Mr Gatrell to contact me direct in the first instance if he identifies or considers there to be operational deficiencies in democratic processes. I do not consider raising matters for the first time at a committee meeting to be either efficient or an effective use of committee time. If I am able to resolve the matter I will do so promptly or provide an explanation if this is not possible.”

 

Richard Jones, Head of Democratic Services

 

The Committee was advised of the receipt of the following Public Statement.

 

Statement

 

PUBLIC STATEMENT FOR BCPC AUDIT & GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE MEETING ON 31.3.22SUBJECT:PROPOSAL TO AMEND COUNCIL PROTOCOLS IN RESPECT OF PUBLIC ISSUE QUESTIONS & STATEMENTS (CURRENTLY LIMITED TO 100 WORDS EACH) IN VIEW OF THE ACCOMPANYING QUESTION TO THIS COMMITTEE

 

PUBLIC STATEMENT

 

Impediments to timely scrutiny, remedial actions & delivering accountability –

- Public Questions & Statements relating to “Council business” channel without subject restriction to Full Council. However, an individual’s rights in that forum are restricted to potentially inadequate four of each issue type per single Municipal Year.

- Moreover, concerning infractions, although Full Council meetings are an essential medium for certain issues, they do  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.

99.

Development of the Overview and Scrutiny Function pdf icon PDF 572 KB

In January 2022 Council requested that the Audit and Governance Committee consider the future model of the Overview and Scrutiny function.  Council requested that any changes required to the function be implemented by the new municipal year.  Options for Overview and Scrutiny have been developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders and are presented within this report for Audit and Governance Committee consideration. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

The Head of Democratic Services and the Overview and Scrutiny Specialist presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'A' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The Committee was reminded of the background of their previous discussions as part of their review of the Constitution and particularly their recommendations to Council about the future structure of the overview and scrutiny function within BCP Council. The recommendations at that time were based upon detailed work undertaken through the Constitution Review Working Group. At the meeting of Council in January 2022, however, the Council requested the Committee to undertake a still wider review of the overview and scrutiny structure and the Audit and Governance Committee undertook to report back to Council in April 2022.

 

Since this direction from Council, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee had held informal discussions with Councillors and Officers, including an informal meeting of all Political group leaders and deputy leaders; unaligned Members; the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of current Overview and Scrutiny bodies; the Chief Executive and the Monitoring Officer. An informal meeting took place on 9 March 2022 and Officers undertook to reflect in the final report the expressed views of the wide range of stakeholders involved.

 

The Committee also heard from the Chair of the existing Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee who was present at the Audit and Governance Committee meeting.

 

The target date for implementation was the start of the new Municipal year in May 2022 and, because of the tight time constraint therefore involved, consideration was being given to the report by the Committee directly rather than taking it through the Working Group. Members also recognised that implementation in May 2022 would provide an opportunity for any changes to bed in over the final year of the current Council leading up to the BCP Council elections in May 2023.

 

The report presented three options to the Committee for the future structure of overview and scrutiny and the detail of each option was set out and explained in terms of resource implications, frequency and potential pattern of meetings, membership and Political balance. For each option, a list of potential areas of responsibility was set out linked initially to agreed Portfolio Holder remits although these could be subject to adjustment over time in the light of experience and comparative workload. The range of options for dealing with cross-cutting issues and for dealing with call-in were also set out for consideration by the Committee.

 

Members were reminded of the fundamental principles of good scrutiny as set out within the BCP Council Constitution upon which overview and scrutiny at the Council was based. The Committee noted the importance of ensuring that structural arrangements should be a good and effective fit with the organisation, its culture, Political dynamics and stated aims and priorities.

 

Prior to the meeting, a copy of the recently published Local Government Association Corporate Peer Review  ...  view the full minutes text for item 99.