Agenda item

Report of the Governance Task and Finish Group


Cllr Peter Rawlinson stated that the proposed Constitution was based on the 115 page Dorset Constitution, with some local preferences.  Appendix A had been completed and Appendix B was in progress.  The outstanding items would be discussed at the Task and Finish Group on 20th May 2019 and reported at the next WNJC meeting.


The Constitution was intended to work for the Shadow Authority, to form the basis for the unitary Council and to be as accessible to residents as possible.


It was proposed that Council would meet at 6.30 pm until 10.00 pm at the latest.  There would be an Overview and Scrutiny Committee made up of 18 people and chaired by the largest opposition group.  The committees would be politically balanced and the constitution gender neutral. 


Cllr Peter Rawlinson expressed thanks to the Task and Finish Group and officers for their contributions.


Cllr Danielle Stone considered that 30 minutes was not long enough for public contributions.  Cllr Peter Rawlinson pointed out that there would be 30 minutes for the public to speak in addition to 30 minutes for questions.  It was important to get a balance between conducting business and retaining openness with residents.  The timings could be changed by the Council if desired.


Cllr Adam Brown drew Members’ attention to page 28, 1.2 and 1.3 and expressed concern that consultation with the Executive regarding Overview and Scrutiny might make it difficult to hold them to account.  It was important to have a firm line between the functions of scrutiny and the Executive.  Cllr Richard Auger stated that independent scrutiny had definitely been the intention, although he acknowledged the wording in 1.2 and 1.3 may have been a little clumsy.


Cllr Alan Chantler congratulated the Task and Finish Group on their work.  He was pleased to note the gender neutrality, but pointed out that page 121, point 3, the phrase ‘shall normally stand’ could have been more sensitively worded.


Cllr Andrew Grant queried the figure of £10 for gifts and hospitality and considered it to be rather low.  Cllr Richard Auger stated that there had been a long debate about this figure, which had subsequently been voted on by the Group. 


Cllr Chris Millar expressed congratulations to the Task and Finish Group.  The time allowed for the public to speak was important and it was the responsibility of the chair to sift out the pertinent points and decide whether there was duplication.


Cllr Stephen Hibbert asked for clarification regarding twin hatters.  Seven signatures were required for a call in and three twin hatters could provide six votes.  This would not be an issue once the Shadow had been elected, but could be a problem in the meantime.


Cllr Danielle Stone asked whether there would be provision for pre-scrutiny to allow participation by backbenchers.  Cllr Peter Rawlinson stated that pre-scrutiny had been discussed and would be included.  On being put to the meeting, the resolution was declared carried unanimously.




a)    The WNJC noted the discussions undertaken and the subsequent conclusions drawn by the Governance Task and Finish Group outlined in the report; furthermore it noted that the conclusions drawn had informed the drafts at the appendices to the report.


b)    The WNJC noted that work undertaken, including the content of the Appendices to the report were based upon assumptions on the content of the expected Structural Changes Order of Northamptonshire and the documents may need to change to reflect the SCO when available.


c)    That with regard to b), the WNJC approved the parts of the draft constitution of the proposed West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority at Appendix A of the report.


d)    The WNJC noted the work in progress of the draft constitution of the proposed West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority at Appendix B of the report.


e)    The WNJC noted that the Task and Finish Group will be reconvened with a view to bringing a completed draft constitution to the WNJC’s meeting in June 2019.


f)     The WNJC thanked all the Councillors who sat on the Task and Finish group for their considerable efforts, over the extremely tight and challenging timescales for the delivery of substantial amounts of complex documentation which will shape the workings of the Shadow Council should approval be granted in the Structural Changes Order (SCO).

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