Issue - meetings
Update to the Constitution
Meeting: 17/02/2020 - Council (Item 9)
Report of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services
The Cabinet Member Corporate Services reported that the Constitution Working Group had met on the 27th January to discuss proposals for constitutional amendments. He suggested that since the proposed amendments cover a wide variety of issues, they should be approached one by one.
a) A change to Article 7, paragraph 7.2 of the Constitution to read “The Cabinet shall consist of the Leader of the Council together with at least two, but not more than nine Councillors”, allowing the introduction of two new portfolios for the climate emergency and the economic development in West Cheltenham.
The Conservative group leader added that the opposition agreed with this recommendation. The Leader of the Council explained that although the Cabinet role is assumed at two days a week, it is unfair to assume that this is automatically what is available. He added that GCC has increased its Cabinet size in the last few years, and this change brings CBC into line with similar councils and accounts for the Cabinet’s increased workload.
b) A reduction in the size of Planning Committee from 15 members to 11.
This would require Council approval at Annual and Selection Council on 18 May 2020 and, once approved, would have immediate effect.
The Cabinet Member Corporate Services suggested that this reduction would also bring CBC into line with other councils around the country. The Chair of the Licensing Committee added that Licensing has 10 members and meets 4 times a year, while there are 5 members on the sub-committee which meets 8 times a year, and 3 on the alcohol sub-committee. He suggested that reducing Planning to 11 therefore seems sensible. He also noted that the Chair’s casting vote is no less important as it is still an odd number, and planning applications can still be appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. One member suggested that if Planning is too big, this might mean that the council itself is too big too.
c) The introduction of the electronic voting system as an alternative to the show of hands currently required
One Member asked whether every vote could be a recorded vote. The Cabinet Member Corporate Services responded that the names of all councillors will appear on the main screen with their choice next to them. One member asked whether votes would be definitely recorded accurately, considering the possibility of user error. The Cabinet Member Corporate Services responded that members would likely know when they had pressed the wrong button and would be able to raise a point of order to have that noted. Members stressed that confidence in the system was key.
One Member asked about secret votes, while another asked how members can be sure that their vote had been recorded correctly. The Head of Law clarified these questions. A test vote and a secret vote were demonstrated for the benefit of members. One member noted that he could not remember the last example of ... view the full minutes text for item 9