Agenda and minutes

Democratic Services Committee - Monday, 13th December, 2021 10.00 am

Contact: Leanne Rowlands  Democracy and Communications Manager

No. Item




Councillor Townsend.


Declarations of Interest




Minutes of Meeting held on 11 October 2021 pdf icon PDF 332 KB


The Minutes of the Last Meeting held on 11 October 2021 were approved and accepted as an accurate record.



Participation Strategy (Presentation Update) pdf icon PDF 322 KB



Leanne Rowlands – Democratic Services Manager

Gareth Price – Head of Law and Regulation


The Democratic Services Manager provided the Committee with a presentation update on where the Council is with the draft participation strategy to encourage citizens in being more involved with Local Authority decision making processes.


Key points:

There are two key requirements in order to promote the council’s functions; the first is to reach the public by promoting awareness and providing ways to get members of the public to access the information easily. The Council are looking to draw the constitution into one accessible guide and to improve the Council website’s search facility to make it more user friendly to build public engagement.


The second requirement is to promote how to become a Member of the Council in order to represent the residents of their community. The Council are looking to build on the website page on how to become a councillor, the Lead Officer discussed the points in the presentation in detail to the Committee.


Members were advised that this would come back to Committee at the end of January with a full draft document in advance of the consultation period. After the consultation, the full strategy will be presented to the council in March prior to the deadline publication in May.


The Lead Officer mentioned the further actions that the council will take under the act, such as putting a petition scheme in place so residents know the process and Members know what the council can do when in receipt of the same. The next steps include future members training and to base it around member seminar training including the importance of social media platforms.


Committee raised the following points:

·         The Committee agreed they were happy with the return of the documents to come to the Committee in January and noted that the presentation was easy to follow.


·         Councillor Giles assured that promotion is good but the language and wording that the council will use needs to be easily understood. The Member mentioned it would be good to learn what has been contributed from the public toward the work, if it includes public comments i.e. if the website suggestions are from feedback and if the officers have taken into account other Local Authorities’ practices.


The Democratic Services Manager confirmed that it is embedded in the presentation of what the residents look at – not on the website at present but it usually comes up with a feedback survey asking what their visit was like that day. Customer Services regularly run surveys and also request feedback from residents on the digital provision.

The other local authorities are in the same position in developing a strategy for May 2022. They are also working towards meeting the first publication date but they are in the first stage of publishing the strategy, then after that they look to improve and develop as Newport will be doing also.

The Head of Service informed the Committee that the strategy is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Amendment to the Constitution and Staffing Arrangement (Presentation Update) pdf icon PDF 156 KB



Leanne Rowlands – Democratic Services Manager

Gareth Price – Head of Law and Regulation


The Democratic Services Manager covered the first section of the requirement to update the constitution as part of the Local Government and Elections Act and explained that it is in preparation for a full review.


Key Points:

The Head of Law and Regulation advised the Committee that Members previously considered the option of appointing a Presiding Member 2-3 years, but recommended to Council that the current mayoral role should continue. The officers put it forward to the Members today to reconsider their previous decision about having a presiding member model for the future, in the light of the review of the democratic arrangements, the change to remote/hybrid meetings and the modernisation agenda.


The Head of Service summarised the points in presentation of having a separate member to chair council meetings. It has been introduced through the Local Government & Democracy Wales Act from the Welsh Government as chairing council meetings involves a different skill set from the role of Mayor.


It was also noted that the council has put in a formal bid for the Mayor to be upgraded to Lord Mayor as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee honours to be considered next June. If Mayoralty were to be upgraded, there may be more demands on that individual’s time as well.


The Officers  advised that any changes would take effect as from next May as the move to hybrid meetings requires a different skill set and noted that many other authorities have done this as that Member can hold office to build up that level of expertise.


Committee raised the following points:


·         The Chair asked if the Presiding Member post would be a paid post and if there would be two posts; one being the deputy.


The Head of Service confirmed that the Presiding Member could carry an additional salary but the deputy member would not carry the senior salary. The Presiding Member salary would be £25,000.00 per annum. The Council was able to pay an additional senor salary as it was below the maximum number of 18 senior salaries, prescribed by the IRP.

It was highlighted that it would separate the role of Council from the Mayoralty. A Cabinet Member currently has to step down if they wish to become the Mayor as the law states a Cabinet Member cannot chair full council. However, with a separate Presiding Member chairing council, then this would free up a Cabinet Member to become Mayor under the seniority role and to fulfil the civic role, although they would only be eligible to receive one senior salary.


·         Councillor Watkins stated that they are happy with the system in place at the moment and noted that if the Mayor’s position got upgraded to Lord Mayor; they have a Deputy Mayor who could step into the role as a Presiding Member and therefore does not see the point in making a £25,000.00 salary position.


·         Councillor Whitcutt disputed the prior point  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Date of Next Meeting


Tuesday 18 January 10am – 12pm



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