Decision Maker: Governance Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
10.1 The Committee considered proposals for the July County Council meeting as well as for meetings to the end of this calendar year as set out in a report by the Director of Law and Assurance (copy appended to the signed minutes).
10.2 Support was expressed for the new ways of working via virtual meetings and it was suggested the Committee should give consideration in future to how the benefits could provide more efficient ways of working once the current emergency was over, particularly for those members who lived some distance away from County Hall.
10.3 A question was asked about the plans for formal member meetings to the end of December. The Director of Law and Assurance said Appendix B was the current plan but it remained entirely flexible and would be updated based on government guidance.
10.4 Members were in general support of the plans for the meeting of the Council on 17 July. Some concern was expressed about the reduction in the length of the meeting, the time limits for individual items and the removal of the facility for notices of motion.
10.5 The Director of Law and Assurance commented that the proposed length of the meeting was a result of member feedback on the virtual meetings held so far. All members had been consulted on the proposals before the Committee and only four had favoured a longer meeting. Overall the meeting was only one and half hours shorter in length than the usual arrangements.
10.6 A query was also raised about the proposed rules for the meeting, as set out at Appendix A. The Director of Law and Assurance commented that it was to compensate for the constraints of virtual meetings. Also, Cabinet Members would not be able to seek advice from officers during the meeting. The proposal for officers to speak was purely to give Cabinet Members the option of asking officers to deal with technical questions.
10.7 On the plans for written questions the Director of Law and Assurance said that the removal of the usual limit would allow all members to submit a question should they so wish, leading potentially to 70 questions on each of the first two items. The suggested restriction to the length was to enable them to be responded to in the time available.
10.8 General support was expressed for hybrid meetings with some members in the Council Chamber and some joining the meeting virtually. The Leader commented that the Council was working towards making that possible when regulations allowed.
10.9 It was agreed by members that an additional meeting of the full Council should be held between the July meeting and the one scheduled for October, as mentioned in paragraph 2.5 of the report. The Leader asked that potential dates be brought to the next meeting of the Committee on 6 July for consideration. There was support for the meeting to follow the usual rules of debate and to be a whole day meeting with a lunch break.
10.10 In response to a question about Task and Finish Groups (TFGs), the Director of Law and Assurance reminded members that it is the normal arrangement for scrutiny committees as far as possible to keep to one TFG at any one time.
10.11 Resolved -
(1) That the plans for the County Council meeting on 17 July 2020 (as set out at paragraph 2 of the report) be approved;
(2) That the amendments to Standing Orders for Virtual Meetings (as set out in Appendix A to the report) be endorsed;
(3) That an additional meeting of the County Council be held between the July and October meeting and that potential dates be brought to the next meeting of the Committee;
(4) That the list of member meetings to the end of December 2020 (as set out at Appendix B to the report) and the principles for holding these meetings, to be updated in relation to government guidance, be approved;
(5) That any consultation required on proposals for future member meetings (as set out at paragraph 4 of the report), be considered by the Committee at its next meeting; and
(6) That plans for member meetings should be reviewed at each meeting of this Committee until further notice.
Publication date: 26/06/2020
Date of decision: 22/06/2020
Decided at meeting: 22/06/2020 - Governance Committee