GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE – 23 MARCH 2009 GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE 23 MARCH 2009 Present: Councillor K Allsopp (Chairman), Councillors B Burgess, R Hall, T Hodgson, Dr P Lea, A Rebeiro, K Rushen, S Rose (Substitute) Officers: Philip Lloyd-Williams - Director of Corporate Governance Deborah Merry - Democratic Services Manager Adrian Cattell - Acting Head of Human Resources and Equalities Peter Ellmer - Corporate Support Manager Apologies: Councillor J Reeve 1. DECLARATION OF INTEREST There were no declarations of interest. 2. QUESTIONS AND DEPUTATIONS There were no questions or deputations. 3. MINUTES RESOLVED The minutes of the meeting held on 3rd November 2008 be approved as a correct record. 4. MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCES SCHEME 2009-10 The Democratic Services Manager referred to the report of the Independent Remuneration Panel which set out the Panel's recommendations for the Council's Members Allowances Scheme for 2009-10. She reported that the Panel had recommended an increase of 2.4% on the current year's allowances, in line with the Retail Price Index rate of inflation. She then referred to the Council's request for the Panel to review the issue of broadband costs. The Committee noted that historically, the Council had installed and met the cost of broadband connections for some Members who had not got their own connections, and also met the broadband costs for some Members who had chosen to use their own connections. In more recent years, where newly elected Councillors had been able to access Council systems using their own existing connections, the emerging pattern was for the Council not to meet the cost of Members’ existing broadband service. The Panel had acknowledged that having access to broadband was an essential communications tool without which Members could not be expected to fulfil their duties effectively. The Panel had recognised that broadband connections would be used by Members for personal and political business as well as Council business and had therefore recommended a flat rate monthly contribution of £9 be made available to Members who used their own broadband connections for Council business. GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE – 23 MARCH 2009 The Committee agreed that current arrangements with existing Members should continue for the time being and that a flat rate payment of £9 per month should be made available to Members who were currently meeting their own broadband costs. RECOMMENDED (i) That the draft Members Allowances Scheme for 2009-10 be adopted with effect from 1st April 2009; and (ii) That with effect from 1st April 2009 a payment of £9 per month be made available to Members who pay for their own broadband connection and use it for Council business 5. MANAGING ALLEGATIONS AGAINST EMPLOYEES At the request of the Head of Human Resources and Equalities this item was withdrawn from the agenda. 6. REVISED RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION POLICY The Head of Human Resources and Equalities presented a report on proposed changes to the Recruitment and Selection Policy, which had been updated to reflect changes in legislation and also safeguarding requirements. He explained the key differences in the policy, which included a requirement that at least the chair of a recruitment panel should have passed the Corporate Recruitment and Selection Course. RESOLVED That the revised Recruitment and Selection policy and procedure be noted. 7. MANAGING STRESS AT WORK POLICY The Director of Corporate Governance presented a new Managing Stress at Work Policy, which was designed to enable the Council to comply with legal obligations and also support managers and staff to effectively manage work related stress. The Acting Head of Human Resources and Equalities reported that although overall staff sickness absence levels were falling, the number of working days lost due to stress was increasing and represented 25% of all sickness absence. RESOLVED That the new Managing Stress at Work Policy be approved. 8. STANDARDS COMMITTEE – APPOINTMENT OF AN INDEPENDENT MEMBER The Director of Corporate Governance reported that, at the end of the current civic year, Dr R G Moore would be standing down as an independent member of the Standards Committee. He advised that the recruitment of a replacement would need to be carried out in accordance with guidance issued by the Standards Board for England. RESOLVED That each of the 3 political groups be asked to nominate a Member to serve on a Panel to oversee the recruitment process, interview applicants and make a recommendation to Council for the appointment of an independent member of the Standards Committee. GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE – 23 MARCH 2009 9. NEW WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY The Director of Corporate Governance presented a new Whistleblowing policy which was to replace the previous Speak Up policy. He explained the key points of the new policy and advised that it was necessary to identify a body to have overall responsibility for monitoring the procedures. It was suggested that the Governance Committee should take on this role. RECOMMENDED That the Whistleblowing policy be approved and the Governance Committee be responsible for monitoring the whistleblowing procedures. 10. COUNCILLOR CALL FOR ACTION The Director of Corporate Governance presented a report relating to the Councillor Call for Action provisions. The purpose of the report, following the publication of a Statutory Instrument and Guidance, was to enable the Committee to consider a scheme and local guidance for implementation of the provisions and any consequential changes required to the Council’s Constitution. He reminded Members that the Constitution already provided for any Member to request that an item be put on an agenda for a Scrutiny Board meeting. However some minor changes to the Constitution were needed in order to comply with legislative requirements. The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board had considered the same report and had supported the adoption of the local scheme and guidance. RECOMMENDED (i) That the CCfA provisions and the Best Practice Guidance be noted; (ii) That the local guidance for Members be approved; and (iii) That the Constitutional changes demanded by CCfA be approved. 11. STANDING ORDER 30 – SEALING OF DOCUMENTS The Committee considered the report of the Director of Corporate Governance which set out revised arrangements for designation of officers for the purpose of sealing documents. RESOLVED That the following Officers be authorised for the purposes of Standing Order 30 (to replace all earlier authorisations): - Corporate Director of Education and Children’s Services Corporate Director for Places Strategic Director Community and Economic Regeneration Director of Corporate Governance Director of Business Support Director for Commissioning Head of Financial Operation Head of Legal Services GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE – 23 MARCH 2009 12. REVIEW OF PLANNING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE The Director of Corporate Governance referred to his report and invited Members to consider the option of dividing the functions of the Planning and Regulatory Committee by allocating the functions to a Planning Committee and a separate Licensing Committee. RESOLVED (i) That Council be asked to establish a single Planning Committee to determine planning and non-licensing matters and a Licensing Committee to deal exclusively with licensing and gambling functions; (ii) That the terms of reference of the new Committees be as set out in the appendices to the report; (iii) and The new Committees be appointed at the 2009 Annual Council meeting. 13. REVIEW OF AUDIT AND GOVERNANCE COMMITTEES The Director of Corporate Governance referred to his report and invited the Committee to review the functions of the Audit Committee and the Governance Committee with a view to combining and their functions and re-allocating certain non-executive functions. After a lengthy debate it was agreed that the functions of the Audit Committee and the Governance Committee should be kept separate and the existing structure should be retained. RESOLVED That no change be proposed to the existing Audit Committee and Governance Committee arrangements. 14. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SCHEME The Acting Head of Human Resources presented his report on the Council’s new Performance Management Scheme. He explained the main features of the new scheme and responded to Members' questions about the scheme. RESOLVED That the proposed new Performance Management Scheme be approved.