Agenda and minutes
Democratic Services Committee
Thursday, 9th March, 2017 2.00 pm
Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall
Contact: Marie Russell Committee Officer
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Dana Davies and T Alan Edwards.
Declarations of personal interests, if any
The Head of Democratic Services provided advice to Members in relation to the following item of business:
Agenda Item 5 – Members’ Remuneration - Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales.
The Monitoring Officer advised that all Members appeared to have a personal and prejudicial interest in respect of Agenda Item 5 which dealt with Member allowances and it would be advisable that they all declared such an interest in this matter. All Members present, apart from Councillor Carole O’Toole agreed to declare a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 5 but claimed the exemption against it being a prejudicial interest contained in paragraph 12(2)(b) of the Member Code of Conduct. Councillor Carole O’Toole gave notice of her intention to declare a further personal and prejudicial interest in respect of this Agenda Item for reasons other than being a Member of the Council.
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 January 2017
The Minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2017 were submitted.
AGREED – That the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2017 be received and confirmed as a correct record.
In response to a Member query, the Head of Democratic Services confirmed that the minute was meant to reflect the reminder she gave regarding the closing time of the Guildhall building (i.e. 7.00 pm). She stated that the decision taken by Council, which was referenced in the minute, related purely to the time of meetings.
To consider the report of the Head of Democratic Services.
The Head of Corporate and Customer Services submitted a report (HCCS/16/17) which enabled the Committee to monitor the webcasting of Council meetings during 2016 and to consider feedback from the Scrutiny Coordinating Group on the Scrutiny Committee webcasting pilot.
The Democratic Services Manager introduced the report and highlighted the main points for consideration.
During consideration of the report there was a general consensus from the Committee that the introduction of webcasting, including the Scrutiny Committee pilot, had been a positive and successful development.
The following points were made:
· The number of hours available to Scrutiny Committee should be increased.
· Consideration should be given to the webcasting of ‘all’ Council meetings.
· More detailed analysis of viewing figures if possible (i.e. how many viewings by internal staff, how many were repeat viewings, which topics had drawn the most/least interest etc.).
· The option of running the webcasting service ‘in-house’ should be explored. (The Head of Democratic Services confirmed that a number of different options had been explored when the webcasting service had first been considered and that procurement had been the chosen route. She stated that the contract price included the provision of equipment and expert support).
· Suggestion that there was still a large % of local people who were unaware of the webcasting service and there was a need to actively promote the service through social media. It should be clear from the published calendar of meetings which meetings are intended to be webcast.
· The need to encourage feedback from members of the public already accessing the webcasting service.
In noting their comments the Head of Democratic Services reminded Members that there was no suggestion currently that any additional WG funding would be provided to support expansion of such services at this time. She further reminded the Committee that when considering expansion of the webcasting service, apart from financial restraints there were many other factors to consider, such as the physical arrangements, room availability, staffing implications etc.
The Head of Democratic Services thanked Members for their comments and advised that the issues raised would form part of the fuller review which would take place in March 2018.
AGREED: That the Committee –
(i) Note the current position with webcasting of Council meetings;
(ii) Continue webcasting Scrutiny Committees, subject to a maximum of 10 hours, during the period April 2017 to March 2018; and
(iii) To conduct a fuller review during 2018 in sufficient time to enable informed decision making prior to the expiry of the current contract.
To consider the report of the Head of Corporate and Customer Services.
(At this point in the meeting Councillor Carole O’Toole vacated the Chair having declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this item. In the absence of the Vice-Chair it was agreed that Councillor Lloyd Kenyon take the Chair for this item).
The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report (HCCS/17/17) which enabled the Committee to consider the changes to the Members’ Remuneration Scheme as contained within the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales’ report (February 2017).
The Democratic Services Manager introduced the report and highlighted the main proposed changes contained within the Panel’s report.
A number of Members expressed their disappointment that a determination by the IRP had been made to increase their Basic Salary despite the Committee having voted against this increase. The Head of Democratic Services confirmed that this was a determination by the Panel, which the Local Authority was obliged to implement. However, if an individual Member wished to forgo part or all of his/her salary they could do so by giving written notice to the Head of Finance (the proper officer).
In response to queries from Members, the Head of Democratic Services agreed to check the accuracy of some of the figures noted in the report (i.e. £5,100) with the report author (Payroll Manager).
AGREED – That the Committee recommend to the IRP the publication of the ‘total’ amount reimbursed by the authority for Costs of Care during the year, but not naming the member.
(Councillor Carole O’Toole declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this matter, having a close relative on the Panel, and left the meeting, taking no part in the discussion or voting thereon).
(Councillors Andrew Bailey, William Baldwin, William Baldwin, Brian Cameron, D J Griffiths, Lloyd Kenyon, Bernie McCann, John Phillips, Barbara Roxburgh and Derek Wright declared personal and prejudicial interests in the matter, being Members of Wrexham County Borough Council, but claimed the exemption as set out in paragraphs 12 (2)(b) of the Member Code of Conduct and remained in the meeting and took part in the discussion thereon)