Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Town Hall, Watford
Contact: Caroline Harris
Apologies for absence
No apologies were received. Councillor Walford was absent.
Disclosure of Interest (if any)
There was no disclosure of interest.
A late item for discussion had been received from Councillor Bell, the committee agreed to include it in the meeting.
Report of Democratic Services Manager following Councillor Bolton’s review of the constitution. Constitution Working Party are asked to consider recommendations to forward to Council.
Councillor Bolton introduced the report and explained the scope of his review of the constitution.
The working party supported the change of name of Major Projects Board to Major Projects Forum and thought a meeting frequency of every four months was suitable unless there was an issue which the Manging Director wished to bring to the Forum in between meetings.
It was noted that there were revised terms of reference for Major Projects Board, Planning Policy Advisory Group (PPAG) and Housing Policy Advisory Group (HPAG). It was also supported to abolish the Highways Forum as it had not met for some time.
Following questions by members the Head of Democracy and Governance explained that scrutiny of the Croxley Business Park would be carried out by regular reports to the Property Investment Board and an annual report to Cabinet and Budget Panel (or Financial Scrutiny if the name change was agreed). There would be executive oversight of Croxley Business Park through Property Investment Board. The Audit Committee would receive information as part of a wide range of capital investments.
The Head of Democracy and Governance responded to questions to explain that whilst it was recognised that the work of Planning Policy Advisory Group was cyclical it would assist members to have the dates in the diary for regular meetings of PPAG. At present meetings were set up ad hoc which made it harder for members to plan their diaries. If meetings in the calendar were not required they could be cancelled. PPAG meetings were open to all members to attend.
Councillor Bolton explained that with the proposed changes to scrutiny it was recognised that scrutiny had a vitally important function in scrutinising the administration. Presently, however, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee was spending 30-40% of time receiving reports from other committees and only 15-30% of time carrying out substantive scrutiny. Therefore, the proposal was to merge the Outsourced Services Scrutiny Panel and Community Safety Partnership Task Group into Overview and Scrutiny Committee and for there to be nine main meetings per year. Presently some meetings were cancelled as they were only for hearing called in decisions, however, there had been very few called in decisions in recent years.
Councillor Bolton continued that it was proposed to make better use of task groups and for them to have a more strategic use. Budget Panel would be retained but would be called Financial Scrutiny Committee given the importance of council finances going forward. It was proposed to reduce the number of members on the committee from nine to seven. The reduction of the OSSP committee meant a saving on a Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA), there was no recommendation to review SRA at present. Councillor Bolton concluded that the proposed changes were not about having less scrutiny but ensuring that what was in place was effective.
The Constitution Working Party (CWP) discussed the scrutiny proposals and supported changing the name of Budget Panel to Financial Scrutiny Committee. It was considered important to maintain scrutiny ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Report to Development Management Committee which will be considered on 6 February. CWP is invited to make any comments to feed into DMC discussions.
The Constitution Working Party (CWP) received a report of the Deputy Manging Director which would also be presented to the Development Management Committee (DMC) on 6 February 2019. The CWP were invited to make any comments on the recommendations which would then be forwarded to DMC.
The CWP discussed the report and recommendations from the Peer Review. It was considered that there needed to be a balance on the committee between the strategic view from Portfolio Holders and ward councillors with local knowledge and understanding. Increasing the number of members on the committee could lengthen meetings and would still need to be politically balanced. Decisions had to be made based on planning policy and law regardless of whether a member of the committee was also a Portfolio Holder.
That Constitution Working Party supports the officer recommendations and forwards comments for consideration by the Development Management Committee.