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Apologies for absence and declarations of interest
To receive any apologies and declarations of interest.
Apologies were received by Councillor Criscione.
To consider the minutes of the previous meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on 11 February were approved as a correct record.
To consider the summary report and position statement in relation to the Governance review.
The Chair said he had asked officers to draft the report tabled before Members. He said he would take questions and comments from each Member before responding in kind.
Councillor Sell said he was disappointed with the recommendation to pause the Governance Review until the spring of 2021. He said this felt like a “U-Turn” and highlighted the Leader’s response to Councillor Loughlin’s question at the previous Council meeting when he stated that the review would proceed. He said he appreciated the resource implications of the Covid-19 response, but it was not a good reason to stop the review. He said governance changes would not be implemented in this council’s lifetime if the review was paused. He said this was about political will and he urged Members to continue and “get on with it”.
Councillor Khan said he agreed with Councillor Sell and he reminded Members that improving governance was part of the change agenda contained within R4U’s manifesto. He said this was effectively “kicking the issue into the long grass” when there was a real need to find areas for improvement. He requested that costs of the review so far were presented to members of the GRWG.
Councillor Gregory agreed with the previous two speakers although he said he was fully aware of the Chair’s personal commitment to the project and would follow his lead. However, he felt the reasoning behind the pause was inadequate and Covid-19 could not be used as an excuse for inaction. He urged the GRWG to redouble its efforts and to continue with the review. He pointed to the recent upturn in the Council’s financial situation, due to the efforts of the investments’ team, as proof that this could be done.
Councillor Freeman said halting the review was wrong as there was an opportunity to amend the Cabinet system and make it more inclusive. He said he was undecided in terms of which system would best suit UDC as there were pros and cons to both Cabinet and Committee models. This was not a matter of resources and he urged Members to continue with the review, although the shadow committee pilot would be resource hungry and could be dropped for the time being.
In response to the comments received so far, the Chair explained his reasoning for the proposal to pause the review. He said the impact of Covid-19 had led to changes to the Corporate Plan, resulting in no budget allocation for the Governance Review. He said he had accepted the fact that the Council was stretched financially and therefore, in light of the emergency response, he was prepared to halt the review. However, he said he did not disagree with any of the previous comments and was delighted to hear that the financial situation was not as bad as first feared, due to the work of the investments’ team. He added that it was for the GRWG as a whole, not himself, to make a recommendation to Full Council and the proposal ... view the full minutes text for item 3.