Mr Trowell, Team Leader (Corporate Governance) and Deputy Monitoring Officer presented this report, which set out and recommended several amendments to the Constitution following consultation with the Constitution Review Working Party. The amendments included updates to legislation and changes resulting from a ‘page turn’ review of the Constitution.
Proposed amendment 5 related to a change to the Monitoring Officer’s approval limit to settle court proceedings but had not been supported by the Constitution Review Working Party without some further rationale for the perceived substantial increase. It was noted, however, that on receipt of such additional information, members of the Audit & Governance Committee might still consider recommendation to Full Council. Consequently, Mr Trowell was able to advise that of 9 other local authorities, 7 had unlimited settlement levels, one had a very low limit of £10k and only one did not delegate to officers at all. Mr Colyer advised that he had requested the amendment and reminded members that at £250,000 the level would be in line with the threshold for a key decision ie reference to Cabinet. Additionally, members took reassurance that up to that higher limit, any settlement by the Monitoring Officer would anyway be subject to prior consultation with Mr Colyer as the S151 Officer. On that basis, members of the Audit & Governance Committee supported all of the proposed changes including no. 5 as discussed.
RESOLVED - That the following amendments to the Constitution be recommended to Full Council:
1. That Part 2, Article 10 (Suspension, Interpretation and Publication of the Constitution), Paragraph 10.3 be amended so that the words: “The Monitoring Officer will give a printed copy of this Constitution to each member of the Council upon delivery to him of that individual’s declaration of acceptance of office on the member first being elected to the Council” be replaced with: “All members are referred to the up to date version of the Constitution, which is maintained online. The Monitoring Officer will give a printed copy of the Constitution to a member of the Council if that member requests a copy”;
2. That Part 3, Section 7 (Audit and Governance Committee), Paragraph 7.1 be amended so that the words “5 independent members” be replaced with: “2 independent members”;
3. That Part 3, Annex C (Officer Scheme of Delegations), Table 1 (General Delegations to All Chief Officers), Paragraph 13 be amended so that the words: “Monitoring Officer £250” be replaced with: “Monitoring Officer £500”;
4. That Part 3, Annex C (Officer Scheme of Delegations), Table 2 (Delegations to the Chief Officers) be amended to add a new clause after paragraph 51 that reads: “To settle employment claims and other staff related payments in consultation with the Head of Paid Service and the Head of Human Resources, Customer Services and Culture, where it is in the best interests of the Council to do so.” and the subsequent paragraphs be renumbered as appropriate;
5. That Part 3, Annex C (Officer Scheme of Delegations), Table 2 (Delegations to the Chief Officers), Paragraph 60 be amended so that the words: “exceeding £50,000” be replaced with: “between £50,000 and 250,000”;
6. That Part 5, Annex 4 to the Code of Conduct (Code of Conduct for Employees) be amended to add a new clause after paragraph 11.4.2 that reads: “Any gift up to a de minimis equivalent financial value of £25, which can be accepted and does not need to be declared, up to a cumulative maximum of £100 in any one financial year.”
7. That Part 3, Section 9 (Investigatory Committee) be amended as set out at Appendix A to the report;
8. That an Independent Panel be established and the terms of reference as set out at Appendix B to the report be agreed. Said terms of reference to be added to Part 3 after section 10 and the subsequent sections be renumbered as appropriate; and
9. That the minor amendments made under the Monitoring Officers delegated authority set out at Appendix C to the report be noted.