Agenda and minutes

Democratic Services Committee - Wednesday, 30th March, 2022 10.00 am

Contact: Leanne Rowlands  Democracy and Communications Manager

No. Item




Councillor Giles, Councillor Clarke, Councillor Whitcutt, Councillor Thomas and Leanne Rowlands.


Declarations of Interest




Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 479 KB


The minutes of the meeting on 28 February 2022 were accepted and approved as an accurate record of the meeting.


Matters Arising

Councillor M. Evans referred to the first page of the minutes of the last meeting where committee brought up the issue of the petition schemes and that the officers had just received advice from the Welsh Government at the time. It was noted that the officers would receive more information to report on for the March meeting and asked if the Committee could have an update on the future information from the Welsh Government.


Head of Law and Standards confirmed that the next item on the agenda would pick up on that point but advised they did not receive further updates in terms of guidance. As the last meeting was based on draft guidance and such guidance would not be available until after May. Therefore advised that the officers are proceeding on the basis of the draft guidance to update the Members verbally.



Participation Strategy Consultation Update (Information Only)


Gareth Price – Head of Law and Standards


The Lead Officer gave a brief overview report to the Committee on the Participation Strategy and the outcome of the public consultation on the draft strategy approved by committee. The Officer explained that he had an update from the Democratic and Electoral Services manager on the public consultation which was limited to 13-14 responses through the council’s website page. In terms of the strategy itself, there were no comments about what was in the strategy but comments about the council not listening to public concerns and how they respond to the same.


It was mentioned that some comments were in relation to the accessibility of the website. Members were informed that the public access is being looked in relation to customer service requests but this was about the accessibility of the governance process and how it works, which is a requirement of the legislation. As it is a dynamic policy with objectives to implement, the criticisms made will be addressed as part of the action plan.

The Head of Service advised that due to the timescales of the plan, there would not be another meeting between March and May. Committee was informed that the consultation responses would not change the draft document that the Members have seen and that it will be presented to full council on 17th May to be adopted. The new Democratic Services Committee would have that on the work programme to keep the plan under review in implementing the engagement strategy.


The Head of Service provided the Committee with a presentational update by the Democratic and Electoral Services Manager which discussed the legislative requirements of formal petition schemes. It was indicated how the council has a process but as it is not documented, the results could not be reported back to committee. The officer highlighted that the council needs to formalise what to do. Members were reminded that this is based on the draft guidance from Welsh Government and that they would try to develop something to present to Council in May. A filtering system was considered so that vexatious petitions would not be dealt with by the council, this could be through validating of the lead petitioners and also whether the council would want a minimum number of signatures before responding to them.

Requirements were discussed for what would not be deemed as a valid petition, such as planning and licensing decisions, code of conduct complaints and statutory appeals as the authority already has processes for those. It was also mentioned that the council could prescribe a timescale for a response to the petitions in question.

The officer welcomed comments and questioning from the Committee.


Committee raised the following points:

·       Councillor Hourahine noted how the petitions that he comes across in his ward mostly relate to resident parking and noted the last remark regarding to the timescale; that it should be essential for the council to have a timescale for the petitions to be dealt with.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) Report (Information Only)


Gareth Price – Head of Law and Standards


The Committee was informed that the Independent Remuneration Panel Report (IRPR) has been included within the agenda purely for information but touched on Councillor M. Evans’ point about it coming into the AGM for discussion.


The Head of Service explained that this was the final report and there has been no significant changes to it since the draft report from November 2021 with regard to the basic allowances and re-setting of senior salaries.


With regard to full council on 17 May 2022; the council will be asked to adopt the Members Allowance Scheme based on the revised salaries and for house-keeping matters, the officers have to take the report in May for the new council to adopt.


The Members were advised that once the AGM has made appointments in terms of Cabinet Members and Party Leaders, the published member scheme of allowances would put their names against the schedules of senior salaries.


Members acknowledged the officer’s points regarding the documentation.



New Officer Scheme of Delegation (Information Only) pdf icon PDF 629 KB


Gareth Price – Head of Law and Standards

Elizabeth Bryant – Assistant Head of Legal Services


The Head of Service provided a brief overview to the Committee and reiterated that the new Officer Scheme of Delegation is a work in progress where they will look to refine and finalise. It was noted that there were no substantive changes to the current delegation but specific function were re-allocated to the new Heads of Service, following the senior management restructure and the re-alignment of services.


For example, public protection previously came under Law and Standards and taxi/licensing and all of the environmental health sections were under Head of Law and Standards, but these functions were transferring to the new Head of Environment & Public Protection. It would ensure that the right officer delegation sits within the right service area and advised that it is a lot more complicated than it seems because the council are having to disaggregate some of the services. The Head of Law and Standards paid credit to the Assistant Head of Legal Services, Elizabeth Bryant who undertook a lot of work on that.


The Members were informed that it is a work in progress and the intention would be to finish between the current time and May for the Members to sign off on 17 May.


The officers welcomed any queries from the Committee.


Committee raised the following points:

·       Councillor Watkins queried how the scheme of delegation would affect the scrutiny committees.


The Head of Law and Standards advised that the officer scheme delegation is purely about decisions made at officer level. In relation to the scrutiny committees; the majority of that would depend on what the make-up will be of the newly elected council.

 Currently, there were two Performance Scrutiny Committees that scrutinised service plans and they were based on the old People and Place/Corporate Directorates. Members were informed that there are currently four corporate directorates and the grouping of services is different. In addition, there would be a new performance self-assessment process that the Head of People, Policy and Transformation was developing.

Members were advised that the officers would need to look at that with the chairs of scrutiny; which would be a bigger piece of work in terms of new performance.


·       The Chair referred to the points three and seven in the Responsibility of Regeneration section to make bids for European funding, and asked if that would is now a thing of the past.


The Head of Law and Standards advised they could omit the reference to ‘European’. As the council still would receive external grant funding, levelling up funding and internal grant funding. The Member was advised that they could pick that up as part of the refinement.


The Lead Officer also mentioned that the Heads of Services were fine tuning other things such as the planning process; where currently the planning applications go the committee because property assets and the corporate assets currently sit with the same Head of Service.. The officer highlighted the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Presiding Member/Chair of Council Update pdf icon PDF 488 KB


Gareth Price – Head of Law and Standards


The Head of Service gave a brief overview to the Committee and explained that the report provides further details of the arrangements, roles and responsibilities for the Presiding Member. The appointment of the Chair of Council/ Presiding Member and the Vice-Chair/Deputy Presiding Member will be determined at the Council Annual General Meeting on 17 May 2022. Council will also be asked to endorse the necessary changes to the Constitution as a consequence of the adoption of the new Presiding Member role.


The Officer gave more information on how the process would work in practice; the revised role description of the Presiding Member and Vice Chair is detailed in the document. Members were advised that in the report, 76% of councils in Wales have a Presiding Member. The Committee was advised that the councils have already taken that decision but the main point is that the Presiding Member appointment is a matter for full council and will be the first item for the AGM in May.


The Head of Service went into detail to explain the nomination and appointment process of the Presiding Member in Council and advised that the role would be up for review each year, with nothing to prevent the chair of council being re-elected. And highlighted the distinction between the Chair and ceremonial role of the Mayor; that the Mayor simply represents the council as the first citizen at internal and external events.


The Officer referred to other council practices, by agreement on the parties of the council; should the Presiding Member be appointed from one group, the Deputy Presiding Member could be nominated by the other group. This was mentioned as it could be something that the groups may wish to consider after May 2022.


The officer welcomed any comments and questioning from the committee.


Committee raised the following points:

·       Councillor M. Evans raised concern of a potentially long meeting in May for the newly elected Members. The Member asked whether the Presiding Member would have a casting vote.


In response, the Head of Service confirmed that the Presiding Member would have a second and casting vote and advised that this was noted in the report but would need to make an amendment to the council standing orders as a consequence to the change. The Presiding Member would have the same rights as the Mayor and the individual chairing the meetings could call the vote.

·       The Chair queried whether the current Mayor, Councillor David Williams would open the meeting as Mayor.


The Lead Officer advised assuming if Councillor Williams would be re-elected.

And should he be elected in, then the Mayor would open the AGM and the first item on the agenda would be the nominations for the Presiding Member and then after being appointed; that individual would take the chair for the rest of the AGM.


·       The Chair queried if it would be conceivable there would have to be elections within the parties to vote for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Date of Next Meeting

Thursday 16 June 10am – 12pm.


Potential date for ad-hoc meeting in June

Thursday 16 June 10am – 12pm



Live Event