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Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Mal Donoghue.
Declarations of Interest
Members are requested to indicate at this stage in the proceedings any items on the agenda in which they intend to declare an interest. Members are reminded that if the interest is a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct) they must leave the room for the whole of that item. If the interest is not a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, but is such that a member of the public could reasonably regard it as being so significant that it is likely that it would prejudice their judgment of the public interest (as explained in the Code of Conduct) then they may make representations, but then must leave the meeting for the remainder of the item.
Councillor Michael Green declared a personal interest in Item 5 as he was a signatory on the call-in request.
Reason for call-in and report of the Assistant Director of Scrutiny and Democratic Services attached.
At the commencement of the meeting, the Chair explained the role of the Scrutiny Committee and how it had powers to call-in a Cabinet decision before it was implemented. The Scrutiny Committee would look at whether the decision made complied with the Council’s decision-making process. If the Committee believed that this had not been complied with, it could then refer the matter back to Cabinet for reconsideration.
The Leader of the Conservative Group, Councillor Margaret Smith, and Councillors Gareth Watson and John Rainsbury were invited by the Chair to explain the reasons for making the call-in request on behalf of those who had signed the request.
Councillor Margaret Smith requested that the Scrutiny Committee refer the decision to implement the recommendations of the Community Involvement Member Working Group back to Cabinet. It was felt that the decision did not maintain the principles of openness and transparency, that there had not been sufficient consultation, and that it constituted a key decision.
There were concerns among those who had signed the call-in request that the implementation of recommendations made by the working group would have clear budget implications over £100,000 and would affect more than two wards within the borough, thereby constituting a key decision.
Councillor Margaret Smith informed the Committee that she did not believe there had been adequate consultation. It was her opinion that members of parish councils and My Neighbourhood Forums had not been appropriately represented. The Committee were informed that Councillor Smith had not been consulted in her capacity as Leader of the Conservative Group despite reference in the report that all group leaders would be consulted regarding the recommendations.
The Leader of the Council, members of the Cabinet, the Director of Neighbourhoods and Development, Jennifer Mullin, and the Assistant Director of Scrutiny and Democratic Services, Darren Cranshaw, were in attendance to answer questions of the Committee.
Confirmation was provided by officers that this was not a key decision as it did not meet the £100,000 value threshold as outlined in the Interim Section 151 Officer’s comments. Furthermore, as the report was high-level, it was not felt that the decision would have a significant effect on residents in two or more wards. Any individual recommendations would be developed further and formal approval sought from Cabinet or Council as appropriate.
Although the Strategic Review of Community Involvement including My Neighbourhoods Final Report had been included on the Forward Plan initially as a key decision, members were informed that this was a contingency at the beginning of the working group’s review. As recommendations became clear and confirmed, it was felt that the report did not constitute a key decision at the time of publication.
In response to queries regarding consultation undertaken around the recommendations, the Cabinet Member for Community Involvement, Social Justice and Wealth Building, Councillor Aniela Bylinski Gelder, clarified that the working group was formed of representatives from all political parties. Councillor Bylinski Gelder, the Leader of the Council and the Assistant Director of Scrutiny and Democratic Services also ... view the full minutes text for item 37.