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Apologies for absence and declarations of interest
To receive any apologies and declarations of interest.
Apologies were received from Councillor Criscione.
To consider the minutes of the previous meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2021 were approved as a correct record.
To consider the summary report and position statement in relation to the Governance review.
The Chair introduced the report and invited Members to comment.
The Democratic Services Manager clarified the implications on the Constitution of the recommendation.
Councillor Freeman gave his support to the recommendation.
Councillor Sell said that the report had not shown the benefits of a Committee system and that this was a missed opportunity for greater review. He said that he welcomed the move forward but questioned whether there was a political will.
The Chair said that he recognised that this proposal was not a radical change but that it represented progress.
Councillor Khan joined the meeting at 6.39 pm.
Councillor Gregory acknowledged that this proposal was about evolution rather than revolution and gave broad support.
Councillor Evans questioned the suitability of Portfolio Holder briefings in areas where matters were highly technical. He said that he recognised that Scrutiny Committee had provided checks and balances and that he would keep an open mind about the proposed way forward.
The Chair said that he saw Portfolio Holder briefings as a method of providing assistance in many situations but recognised that in some areas, for example the Local Plan, it would not assist.
Councillor Khan apologised for his late arrival and said that he agreed with Councillor Sell’s expressed views. He said that he admired the Chair’s honesty. He said that he wanted a robust governance system and would be asking for three key indicators of success in order to assess any new system. He sought clarification as to how the briefings would work and said that he would like officers to be involved in any briefings.
The Chair said that his measure of success would be for there to be less argument at Council meetings, enabling a more collective approach to be taken towards decision-making. He said that he considered that any decisions re officer involvement in briefings would rest with each Portfolio Holder.
Councillor Khan said that he would like officer involvement as there was a less likely chance of things going wrong if officers were present. He re-iterated that he required clear lines of sight on the measures of success.
The Chair said that he was not convinced of the need for early officer input as it was Councillors who made the policy with officer assistance.
Councillor Isham said that how to measure success was a challenge. He said there should be a clearly documented process in place and that what had been proposed was a positive route forward.
Councillor Lees said that what had been proposed was radical, particularly as it was not happening elsewhere. She said that a Committee system of governance tended to mean that voting was along party political lines. She said that the Administration did have a will to move this area forward. She asked how quickly a draft protocol could be drawn up.
The Democratic Services Officer said that officers were looking for a road map to be provided from the meeting and that draft protocols would be drawn up as quickly as possible ... view the full minutes text for item 3.