Updates from scrutiny task groups
Update from Democracy Officer
In the absence of Councillor Payne, the Chairman of the O&S Review STG, the Democracy Officer confirmed that the group had met for the first time in October and though the second meeting had subsequently been cancelled, the group had, had productive discussions about how some of the recommendations could be taken forward.
The Chairman referred members to the feedback from the Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) STG, that had been circulated with the agenda and Councillor Horwood, as Chair of that group, was asked to address the committee. He explained that the task group had been established to look at options regarding payments of SRAs to members who were appointed to outside bodies as non-executive directors or trustees. As outlined in the paper, the group considered advice from the Legal Officer which, in short made clear that to enable a payment to be made the Member had to be ‘representing the authority’. Yet when a member took up the position of Director or Trustee of an outside body they were attending Board meetings in their capacity as a Director or Trustee of that body and were expected and indeed would have legal duties to look after the bodies’ interests and to further its aims and not the authority’s aims. In light of this advice the STG ruled out recommending an SRA for those members who were appointed as Directors or Trustees and also ruled out SRAs where it was felt that attendance at the outside body did not seem onerous or those which councillors or cabinet members would be expected to attend in the course of their duties. This left a list of 7 outside bodies which the STG felt could be actively considered as potentially meeting the criteria of receiving an SRA, but it was reiterated that these bodies were not where members held the role of director or trustee, which was therefore outside the remit prescribed by this committee. In view of this, the STG were asking whether O&S wished the STG to progress any further work in this regard.
Councillor Horwood gave the following responses to member questions:
· The STG had not investigated whether other authorities, such as Gloucester City in terms of the Gloucestershire Airport Consultative Committee, paid their members to attend, but he personally doubted that they would.
· Ubico was an oddity because it was not a constituted board but rather a subsidiary of the Council(s) and therefore no SRA was payable.
· It was his personal opinion, and not necessarily that of the STG, that no further work should be undertaken as the bodies for which SRAs were potentially payable were not those where members held the role of Director or Trustee.
The Leader confirmed that it was he who had raised the issue at Council, on the grounds that it seemed only fair that Councillor McCloskey, a member on the Publica Board, be paid as the other Board Members were.
Members thanked the task group for their feedback and agreed that many appointments to outside bodies were those members that would be expected to attend meetings anyway because they were ward councillors or Cabinet members, or where the member had a particular interest in the work of the body.
The Chairman proposed that the committee vote on whether the task group should progress any further work.
Upon a vote it was
RESOLVED that the SRA scrutiny task group should undertake no further work on the issue.