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Apologies for absence and declarations of interest
To receive any apologies and declarations of interest.
Apologies were received from Councillor Gregory that he would have to leave the meeting at 7.00 pm.
To consider the minutes of the previous meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on 16 September 2020 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 updated Members on progress made since the previous meeting. He said that the intention was to make governance systems more democratic, to try and improve outcomes and that goodwill would be required to move forward. He said that the Leader/ Cabinet governance system could be amended, rather than replaced by a Committee system, in order to achieve cross-party and collegiate working practices. He said that one possible intention was that Portfolio Holders could meet with other Members in a working group environment prior to a decision- making meeting that would ensure significant input into the process.
Councillor Isham joined the meeting at 6.38 pm.
Councillor Sell said that he accepted the current position that the Council found itself in but that this was a missed opportunity to critically review the existing governance system. He said that residents in 2019 had been looking for something different. He said that he saw value in Portfolio Holders meeting regularly with Members of Opposition Parties, perhaps on a quarterly basis, and that this could provide a future constructive working relationship.
Councillor Coote said that he did not want to be held to quarterly meetings but that anyone outside of the Cabinet could have access to such meetings. He also said that the attached report on the Guildford model was purely an example of a governance review for information.
Councillor Freeman referred to Page 64 Annex D of the report that stated that if a formal change of the Council’s governance model was made by a Council resolution alone then the change would be locked in for five years. He said that he quite liked the Cabinet system being light-footed but felt that improvements could be made. He said that any changes made would provide the greatest benefits to Opposition Members; he supported change but said that it was really down to Opposition members to decide whether to “buy-in” to possible changes.
Councillor Khan said that some good points had been made but questioned whether there was political will for changes to be made. He recognised benefits in Portfolio Holders meeting with Opposition Members but said that he did not want the work of Scrutiny Committee to be duplicated. He said that his preference was for a Committee system of governance.
The Chair confirmed that there was political will for change and that this was about making early changes in the decision- making process rather than about scrutiny which looked at the situation after the decision had been made.
Councillor Lees said that, speaking on behalf of other Cabinet members, she would welcome a collegial model whereby meetings were held between Portfolio Holders and Opposition Members ahead of decision- making meetings. She said that promises had been made to review the governance system and that this was now taking place but that all Members had to sign up to potential changes.
Councillor Gregory left the meeting at 7.00 pm.
The Chair said that no decisions had yet been taken ... view the full minutes text for item 3.