Agenda and minutes
Democratic Services Committee
Thursday, 1st November, 2018 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 Michael Dixon, T Alan Edwards and Paul Rogers.
Declarations of personal interests, if any
Members are reminded of their responsibility, under Paragraph 11 of the Members’ Code of Conduct, to declare the existence and nature of any personal interest in respect of any of the business to be transacted at this meeting
The Deputy Monitoring Officer provided advice to Members in relation to the following item of business:
Agenda Item 4 – Members’ Remuneration:
The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that all Members appeared to have a personal and prejudicial interest in respect of Agenda Item 4 which dealt with Member allowances and it would be advisable that they all declared such an interest in this matter. All Members present agreed to declare a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 4 but claimed the exemption against it being a prejudicial interest contained in paragraph 12(2)(b) of the Member Code of Conduct.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 September 2018.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2018 were submitted.
RESOLVED – That the Minutes be of the meeting held on 6 September 2018 be signed as a correct record.
Item 36 Webcasting of Council Meetings: With reference to the Committee’s recommendation to Council to lease a webcasting system for Meeting Room 1, the Chair had met with the Leader of the Council prior to the Council meeting held on 26 September 2018 to further progress this matter. The Leader had indicated his strong commitment to extending the webcasting facility to include all Scrutiny Committee meetings, however, he was of the opinion that the Council Chamber would be a better venue due to its size, layout and fact that the webcasting equipment was already in place. The Chair acknowledged these comments and taking into account the Council’s financial position, accepted that this would be a more prudent way forward.
Therefore, prior to the Council meeting, all Members of the Democratic Services Committee were e-mailed to seek their agreement that the proposed use of Meeting Room 1 for the webcasting of meetings no longer be pursued.
Having received no adverse responses from Members of the Democratic Services Committee, he informed the Leader of the Council accordingly.
The Leader of the Council (Councillor Mark Pritchard) commented that he was in full support of extending the webcasting of meetings of the Council as this provided greater transparency and openness within the democratic process. The webcasting contract renewal in January 2019 would provide for the webcasting of all Scrutiny Committee meetings from the Council Chamber subject to the availability of the Chamber and any other practical issues during the remainder of the current municipal year, and this would be extended into 2019/2020.
RESOLVED – That the information be noted.
To consider the report of the Head of Corporate and Customer Services
(Members declarations of interest in relation to this item are set out in Minute 38 above)
The Head of Corporate and Customer Services submitted a report (HCCS/56/18) which enabled consideration to be given to the changes to the Members’ Remuneration Scheme proposed within the draft Annual Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) in order to inform a response to the consultation by no later than 27 November 2018.
The Acting Legal Democratic and Registration Services Manager introduced the report and outlined the key proposals to increase the basic and senior salaries for Elected Members for the financing year commencing April 2019. The IRPW were required to take into account the representations which it received on the draft before issuing its final version of the report.
During discussion the following matters were raised in particular:
· A number of Members expressed disappointment that the IRPW had completely ignored previous representations made by many Local Authorities, including Wrexham County Borough Council, not to increase the level of remuneration for Members.
· Several Members found it difficult to justify any increases in payments to Members especially during a period of continued austerity in public sector funding resulting in cuts in service budgets and increases in Council Tax. In such circumstances no pay rise could be acceptable.
· With regard to senior salaries paid to Executive Board Members, no reference had been made to the workload associated with individual Lead Member portfolios.
· Several Members expressed concern on the potential adverse publicity any increases in Members’ payments would attract in the local media and the implications this could have on the public confidence on the work being undertaken by the Council.
· The IRPW Report did not provide sufficient advice to enable Members who have child-care, personal support needs and or caring responsibilities to carry out their duties effectively as a member of an authority. Annual reports tended to concentrate on pay and incremental increases year on year.
· The Chair commented upon the role of Councillors as community leaders and, in a time when the disposable income of many residents was declining, this could be on opportunity for Members to exercise self restraint and to recommend that the proposed increase not be accepted.
· The Leader of the Council reminded Members that the Local Authority had no discretion in terms of determining Members’ remuneration, that was the role of the IRPW. However, if an individual Member wished to forego part or all of his/her salary they could do so by giving written notice to the appropriate Council officer or make donations to charities or local causes. He then explained that the procedure for submitting comments to the IRPW would be by a written letter, the contents of which he would share with the Chair of the Democratic Services Committee prior to despatch.
RESOLVED – To recommend that the letter from the Leader to the IRPW to contain a section incorporating the views of this Committee, these being:
“That the Committee expresses disappointment that a determination has been ... view the full minutes text for item 40.
To consider the report of the Head of Democratic Services.
The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report (HCCS/57/18) which enabled Members to review the Protocol for the webcasting of meetings.
In introducing the report, the Acting Legal, Democratic and Registration Services Manager commented that the revised Protocol took into account the Council’s ICT & Digital Strategy 2017 – 2020 and a copy of the Protocol was attached at Appendix A to the report.
During consideration of the report Members raised the following points in particular:
· It was noted that there was a presumption within the protocol that Members and officers have given their consent to being filmed / recorded unless a specific request has been made to the Monitoring Officer to the contrary. Public speakers may withhold their consent to appear in the webcast, however, their comments will be webcast.
· With reference to the longer term storage and future viewing of webcasts beyond the six months currently provided through Public-I, clarification was sought on whether the Public-I webcast was in a format that could be stored on the Council’s YouTube channel, and that no information would be lost as a result of the transfer of the webcast.
· The Acting Legal, Democratic and Registration Services Manager confirmed that a review of the longer term storage of Council webcasts was being undertaken. In addition, to accessibility, GDPR Storage Limitation Principles needed to be taken into account when considering the length of time the Council retained the archived webcasts.
· To mitigate the risk of inappropriate use of webcast clips, the Council would retain copyright of the material and the ability to request irretrievable deletion.
· It was suggested that a Member training session on how data can be extracted from the webcast be arranged.
· There was a general consensus that the webcasting of Council meetings displayed openness and transparency in the Council’s decision making process and supported the vision in the Council Plan of being a strong and inclusive community leader.
RESOLVED – To recommend to Council that the revised Protocol for the webcasting of meetings be approved.