Council 15 April 2015 Joint meeting of Appointments, Licensing, Corporate, Pensions and Standards Committees 15 April 2015 Review of allocation of seats to political groups and amendments to the Members Allowance Scheme. Wards: All Report Authorised by: Chief Executive: Sean Harriss Contact for enquiries: [email protected] Alison McKane, Head of Legal Services, Integrated Support, 020 7926 2353 Report summary A review of the allocation of seats to political groups is required at, or as soon as practicable after, each Annual Meeting of the Council or when notice is received of a change in the composition of a political group. The administration proposes the following changes to the current position: (a) Following the formation of the Council’s new Pensions Committee, to allocate the five seats on that Committee as detailed below. (b) Following the formation of the Council’s new Pensions Board, to allocate the [three seats] on that Board allocated to elected members as detailed below. The report also deals with amendments to the Members Allowance Scheme with the recommended introduction of a discretionary flexible sickness payments to members. Finance summary There are no financial implications arising from this report any changes to the Members Allowances Scheme will be met from within the existing budget. Recommendations Council (1) That the report of the Chief Executive setting out the recommended allocation of seats to political groups, as set out in Table 2 below, be adopted. (2) That accordingly the Council reappoints its Committees with the sizes and allocation of seats between political groups as set out in Table 2 of the report and invites the Whips of the two party groups to make nominations to fill the seats on these committees. (3) That the Appointments Committee be invited to note the constitution of and confirm the sizes of the sub-committee and allocation of seats between political groups on the sub-committee as set out in table 2 of the report, and that the Whips of the two party groups be invited to make nominations to fill the seats on that sub-committee. (4) That it is noted that Councillor Rachel Heywood has been unable to attend Council Committee meetings due to ill health and the last meeting Cllr Heywood attended was on 19 November 2014. (5) That on the basis of the continued ill health of Cllr Heywood the Council agree that Cllr Heywood will continue to be a member of this Council even if she does not attend a meeting of this local authority (as defined in section 85(2) of the Local Government Act 1972) by 18 May 2015 and that the Council agrees that Cllr Heywood has until 18 November 2015 to attend a meeting of the authority (as defined in section 85(2) Local Government Act 1972) failing which she will cease to be a member. (6) That the Members Allowance Scheme be amended to enable the Chief Executive to agree a discretionary flexible sickness payment in accordance with the wording set out at Paragraph 3.1 below. Appointments Committee and Licensing Committee (1) That the size of sub-committees and allocation of seats between political groups on those sub-committees as set out in table 2 of the report be confirmed. Context 1.1 Following the local elections on 22 May 2014 the political composition of the Council is Labour (58 seats), Conservatives (3 seats) and Green Party (1 seat) One seat is currently vacant pending a by-election on 7 May 2015. 1.2 Section 15(1) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 requires the Council to review the representation of the different political groups on committees and subcommittees: At or as soon as practicable after, the Annual Meeting of the Council or Where notice is received of a change in the composition of political groups. 1.3 The Chief Executive is under a duty, whenever such a review takes place, to submit a report to the Council showing what allocation of seats would in his opinion best meet the requirements of section 15 of the 1989 Act. 1.4 As there is only one elected member from the Green Party, that party cannot be constituted as a political group on the Council, as Regulation 8 of the Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990 (“the Regulations”) prescribes that a minimum of two members is required to constitute a political group. However the member of the Green Party can be allocated any spare seats available once the proportionality rules have been applied. 2. Proposal and Reasons 2.1 Section 15 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 does not impose any specific requirement on the Council to consult the political groups as to which committees the seats should be allocated; this only applies to the actual allocation of a seat to a particular member. 2.2 However it is clearly preferable if all groups have an agreed position as to which committees are to be adjusted, provided that the agreed position does not conflict with the Council’s duty, which is “to make only such determinations as give effect, so far as reasonably practicable, to the principles specified in subsection (5).” 2.3 In summary these principles of determination (“principles”) are that: (a) All the seats are not allocated to the same group; (b) The majority of seats go to the group (if any) which has an overall majority on the Council (i.e. more than 32 seats); (c) Subject to the above two principles, that the number of seats on the total of all the ordinary committees allocated to each group bears the same proportion to the proportion on the full Council; and (d) Subject to (a) and (c), that the number of seats on each ordinary committee and each sub-committee allocated to each group bears the same proportion to the proportion on the full Council. Overall Party split on the Council 2.4 Following the local elections on 22 May 2014 the parties have the following seats on the Council: Party Seats Calculation % Seat Entitlement Labour 58 58/63 92.06% 34 Conservative 3 3/63 4.76% 2 Green 1 1/63 1.58% 0 Vacant 1 TOTAL 63 100% 36 Committee sizes 2.5 The Council has six Committees to which the duty to achieve political proportionality applies. These are: Appointments, Corporate, Overview and Scrutiny, Planning, Standards and Pensions. Table 1 below shows the current size of these committees and the proposed changes to the current position: Table 1 Committee Appointments Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Planning Standards Pensions (new Committee wef 1.4.15) Total Current Size Proposed New Size 5 5 5 5 9 9 7 7 5 5 0 5 31 36 2.6 On the basis of the size of the committees and the total number of seats available the entitlement Accordingly the committees and sub-committees which the administration proposes to be appointed in 2015/16 are set out in Table 2 as follows, together with the entitlements which each group has in relation to each individual committee and subcommittee, adjusted to reflect the current agreed position on each committee and sub committee. 2.7 TABLE 2 COMMITTEE OR SUBCOMMITTEE TOTAL LABOUR CONSERVATIVE GREEN Ordinary Committees Appointments Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Planning Applications Standards Pensions TOTALS 5 4 1 0 5 4 1 0 9 8 1 0 7 6 1 0 5 4 1 0 5 4 1 0 36 30 Entitlement Adjustment required NB To give effect to requirement that not all seats are allocated to the same group Adjusted Totals 34 2 0 -4 +4 0 30 6 0 Sub-Committees of the Appointments Committee Appointments Sub-Committee 5 4 1 0 2.8 In addition the Council has three other Committees, the Licensing Committee, the Health and Wellbeing Board and the Pensions Board which are not subject to the political balance requirements. The Council proposes the following allocation of seats to those Committees: Table 3 Committee Labour Conservative Green Total Health and Wellbeing Board Licensing 3 1 0 4 9 1 0 10 Pensions Board 3 2.9 Licensing Sub-Committees are drawn from the Licensing Committee to hear individual licensing applications. Pursuant to section 9(1) of the Licensing Act 2003, each subcommittee must comprise of 3 members drawn from Licensing Committee. 2.10 Following the allocation to a political group by the Council, or a committee, of a seat or seats on a committee or sub committee respectively, regulation 15 of the relevant Regulations provides that the political group has a period of three weeks from the date that notice is given to express its wishes in relation to the appointment to such a seat or seats. If the group fails to express its wishes within the prescribed period, the Council or committee may make such appointment to that seat or seats as they think fit. Further, the group to which a seat has been allocated is entitled to express a wish that the seat be filled by a member of a different political party. However, that seat remains, in law, allocated to the first group and that group therefore retains the right to terminate the appointment. 2.11 The Council proposes to amend the Member Allowance Scheme as detailed in paragraph 3.1 below to enable a discretionary rather than mandatory payment to be made to a member under certain exceptional circumstances when they are suffering from long term sickness and as a consequence are unable to fulfil their duties as a councillor. Unlike employed officers members do not benefit from any statutory sickness scheme given they are elected officials rather than employed officers. The decision to allow the discretionary payments will be determined by the Council’s Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Head of Paid Service on a case by case basis and no precedent shall be set as a result of any historical payments having been made. Members will be aware that due to a long term illness Councillor Rachel Heywood has not been able to undertake her duties as a Cabinet Member. It is proposed that a payment equivalent to the SRA for 6 months be retrospectively approved, with effect from 15th January 2015, in recognition of the huge commitment and contribution Councillor Heywood has made during her time as both a councillor and a cabinet member. Going forward the constitution is proposed to be amended to allow the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Head of Paid Service to sanction such discretionary payments on an exceptional case by case basis without creating any precedent, provided that any sickness payment be within the overall financial budget for Member Allowances. It is hoped that Councillor Heywood will make a full recovery and will be able to take up her role as a councillor soon. 3.1 It is proposed that the following wording be inserted into the Members Allowance Scheme: Discretionary Sickness Payments The eligibility for flexible sickness payments is to be determined by the Council’s Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Head of Paid Service. It would be payable where a member who is in receipt of a special responsibility allowance is unable to fulfil their duties as a councillor due to long term illness. In these circumstances the member would be eligible to receive a discretionary sickness payment. Any discretionary sickness payments will be made for a period of up to six months up to the full amount of the SRA. All flexible sickness payments need to be within the overall financial budget set for Member Allowances. 4 Finance 4.1 There are no financial implications arising from this report any changes to the Members Alowances Scheme will be me from within the existing budget. 5 Legal and Democracy 5.1 These are covered in section 2 above, and generally. 5.2 Under Section 111 the Local Government Act 1972 a local authority shall have power to do anything (whether or not involving the expenditure, borrowing or lending of money or the acquisition or disposal of any property or rights) which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the discharge of any of their functions. 6 Consultation and co-production 6.1 None 7 Risk management 7.1 None 8 Equalities impact assessment 8.1 Not applicable 9 Community safety 9.1 None 10 Organisational implications None 11 Timetable for implementation 11.1 Not applicable Audit trail Consultation Name/Position Sean Harriss Mark Hynes Martin Crump Wayne Chandai Dave Burn Councillor Paul Gadsby Councillor Tim Briggs Councillor Lib Peck Lambeth cluster/division or partner Chief Executive Director of Corporate Affairs Integrated Support – Financial Planning & Management Democratic Services Manager Head of Democratic Services & Scrutiny Chief Whip Conservative Group Leader and Whip Date Sent Date Received 30.03.15 30.03.15 07.04.15 07.04.15 30.03.15 07.04.15 30.03.15 07.04.15 30.03.15 07.04.15 30.03.15 30.03.15 07.04.15 Leader of the Council 30.03.15 07.04.15 Report history Original discussion with Cabinet Member Report deadline Date final report sent Report no. Part II Exempt from Disclosure/confidential accompanying report? Key decision report Date first appeared on forward plan Key decision reasons Background information Comments in para: 4 n/a 01.04.15 07.04.15 178/14-15 No No N/A N/A Relevant Legislation: Local Government and Housing Act 1989 Local Government (Committee and Political Groups) Regulations 1990 Appendices None.
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