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Governance and Standards Scrutiny Panel - 6 September 2017

 

PRESENT: -  Councillor Robinson in the chair.

Councillors Gosling (Vice-Chair), Longcake, Swift and Wells.

The panel met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.

Councillors Collinson, L Foster and Mumby-Croft attended the meeting in accordance with Procedure Rule 1.37(b).

19      DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS AND PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS AND DECLARATIONS OF WHIPPING ARRANGEMENTS (IF ANY) – The following members declared personal interests - 

Member

Minute

Nature of Interest

Councillor Collinson

22

Member of Bottesford Town Council

Responded on behalf of Bottesford Town Council to the Community Governance Review consultation

Councillor Gosling

22

Member of Gunness Parish Council

Councillor Mumby-Croft

22

Member of Broughton Town Council

Councillor Robinson

 

22

Member of Epworth Town Council

Councillor Swift

22

Member of Bottesford Town Council

Councillor Wells

22

Member of Barnetby-le-Wold and Kirmington and Croxton Parish Council

 

No whip was declared.

20      MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the proceedings of this panel held on 20 July 2017, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and signed by the chairman.

21      PUBLIC REQUESTS TO SPEAK The Director: Governance and Partnerships informed the meeting that the scrutiny panel had received twelve requests to address the scrutiny panel to discuss the Community Governance Review. 

The Chairman informed the meeting that he would allow one representative from each of the town councils to address the scrutiny panel.  However, all other attendees would have an opportunity to contribute to the discussion on the review later in the meeting.

Mrs Lesley Liddle, clerk to Bottesford Town spoke on behalf of the Town Council and stated the following concerns –

  • The lack of information on the consultation leaflet, particularly that all town councillors were volunteers.

  • Only one leaflet was circulated per household.

  • Only 7.1% of householders consulted responded.

  • Bottesford electorate was only going to grow over the forthcoming years

  • The council being quorate would be an issue were the proposed reduction agreed

  • Neighbouring parish councils would have a larger membership than Bottesford Town Council.

  • The town council was not consulted on the services and facilities it manages.

  • Co-option at the council had always been a successful tool to ensure the town council had a full membership.

  • North Lincolnshire Council supported volunteers and the contribution to make to communities.

  • Bottesford Town Council had operated at 24 councillors for many years with no issue.

  • The town council requested that its existing membership and parish warding arrangements continue.

Councillor James Truepenny addressed the scrutiny panel in his capacity as a Brigg Town Councillor, and made the following points –

  • The proposed reduction in membership would not provide any financial saving and may lead to concerns over accountability.

  • The town council would be too small to manage a budget in excess of £100,000.

  • There would be issues with the town council being quorate for meetings.

  • The town council delegated a lot of its work to committees and working groups.  A reduction to nine councillors would mean those elected would have to commit more time to the council to ensure its business was concluded.

  • The only councillor cost was mayoral expenses and training costs.

  • The town council was currently independent of party politics.  A reduction to nine councillors may result in politicians running the council.

Councillor Catherine Whittingham addressed the scrutiny panel in her capacity as a Broughton Town Councillor, and made the following points –

  • Democracy should not be taken for granted.

  • The review consultation was undemocratic.

  • Only 7.1% of households responded to the consultation.

  • Only one leaflet per property was insufficient.

  • Similar ballots,, for example Trade Union ballots require a 50% return.

  • The consultation leaflet was not informative, did not explain the process and was undemocratic. 

  • North Lincolnshire Council should be encouraging public participation, not cutting the number of volunteers or town councils.

  • The town council had a number of committee and public facilities to manage.  A reduction in the number of councillors would see the clerk taking on more responsibilities.

Councillor Robbie Pender addressed the scrutiny panel in his capacity as a Crowle and Ealand Town Councillor, and made the following points –

  • As a local resident, he did not receive the consultation leaflet.

  • Neither he nor the town council have had an opportunity to respond to the consultation.

  • North Lincolnshire Ward Councillors were tasked with responding to the review on behalf of the town council.  This was not done.

  • Many residents in Crowle and Ealand did not receive the consultation leaflet.  This may be why the response to the consultation from local residents was so low.

  • Of those who did respond, only 47% voted in favour to reduce the membership of the town council.

  • Crowle and Ealand Town Councillors are volunteers and are unpaid for the work they do in the community.

Councillor Tony Kidder addressed the scrutiny panel in his capacity as a Kirton-in-Lindsey Town Councillor, and made the following points

  • Many householders have commented that they did not receive the consultation leaflet.

  • The population and dwelling projections in the report are wrong.

  • Kirton will grow in size dramatically over the next five years.

  • The Town Council will not be able to function with nine councillors, as there will be too much work for the council to do.

  • Kirton Town Council is made up entirely of volunteers.

  • The review recommendations are very short sighted.

Councillor Paul McCartan addressed the scrutiny panel in his capacity as a Winterton Town Councillor, and made the following points –

  • The North Lincolnshire leg of the Tour of Britain was such a success due to the number of volunteers that worked tirelessly in their communities, with many of the volunteers being elected town and parish councillors.

  • North Lincolnshire Council and Town and Parish Councils had signed a Town and Parish Council Charter, which stated that both parties would act with respect and promote democratic accountability.

  • The charter stated that North Lincolnshire Council would aim to resolve issues of difficulty in a constructive manner.  This had not happened for the Community Governance Review.

  • The consultation did not promote the role of Town and Parish Councils.

  • The leaflet made no reference to councillors being unpaid volunteers.

  • The review recommendations would see a reduction of 67 town councillors.

  • There was a mis-conception in local communities that town councillors are remunerated.  The review had not addressed that issue.  Nor did it promote the role that the volunteer councillors fulfil.

  • Many residents in Winterton received the wrong consultation leaflet.

  • The advertising for the consultation events in local communities was poor.

  • Winterton Town Council wanted to be involved in the review, but it did not have an opportunity to contribute.

  • There was no reference in the report to the number of households consulted.

  • It was very disappointing that the Member of Parliament for Brigg and Goole did not respond to the consultation.

  • The five year property projections listed in the report were wrong.

  • The Aston Business School parish councillor allocation was written in 1992.  It was not guidance, but infact a typical representation.

  • The table for the number of candidates contesting elections was not reflective of the current allocation of councillors on the town council.

  • Barton and Holme had requested North Lincolnshire Council assist them with specific issues, but no other town council had an issue with their electoral arrangements.

  • Were the reduction agreed, Winterton Town Council would not be quorate at meetings.

  • The report made no reference to what Winterton Town Council did as a body.

  • The East Riding and Northern Lincolnshire Local Council Association comparison of town council membership and size of electorate provided a distorted position of the town councils in North Lincolnshire.

Resolved – That the public speakers be thanked for their attendance and verbal presentation at the meeting.

22      (5)      COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE REVIEW – The Director: Governance and Partnerships submitted the panel’s draft report for approval of the recommendations following the Community Governance Review of the electoral arrangements of the eight town councils and Holme Parish.

The Chairman invited panel members to comment on the draft report, with particular emphasis on the recommendations.

The Chairman then invited all town councillors, clerks and North Lincolnshire Council members present at the meeting to comment on the report.

It was then moved by the Chairman, and seconded by Councillor Longcake that it be –

Recommended to Council - That recommendations 1; 2a, b and c; 3 a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h and 4 a, b, c, d and e, as stated in the report, be approved and adopted.

It was then moved by Councillor Swift and seconded by Councillor Gosling as an amendment, that it be –

Recommended to Council -

Recommendation 1 – That the ordinary election of parish councils continue to be held every fourth year, alongside North Lincolnshire Council local government elections.

Recommendation 2a – That the electorate of Holme join Messingham Parish.

Recommendation 2b – That the Director: Governance and Partnerships be requested to publish a Reorganisation Order for the new Holme Community Governance arrangements to be implemented from 1 April 2018.

Recommendation 2c – That the Reorganisation Order cover any consequential matters that appear to the council to be necessary or proper to give effect to the order.  In these matters, the council will follow the regulations that have been issued under the 2007 Act.

Recommendation 3a – That the number of parish councillors on Barton Town Council be retained at 22.

Recommendation 3b – That the number of parish councillors on Bottesford Town Council be retained at 24.

Recommendation 3c – That the number of parish councillors on Brigg Town Council be retained at 19.

Recommendation 3d – That the number of parish councillors on Broughton Town Council be retained at 18.

Recommendation 3e – That the number of parish councillors on Crowle and Ealand Town Council be retained at 15.

Recommendation 3f – That the number of parish councillors on Epworth Town Council be retained at 15.

Recommendation 3g – That the number of parish councillors on Kirton-in-Lindsey Town Council be retained at 14.

Recommendation 3h – That the number of parish councillors on Winterton Town Council be retained at 18.

Recommendation 4a – That the parish warding arrangements in the Barton Town Council area be deleted, with the town council becoming one council for the purpose of electing parish councillors.

Recommendation 4b – That the existing Bottesford Town Council parish warding arrangements be retained.

Recommendation 4c – That the existing Bottesford Town Council parish warding arrangements, including the boundary and names of the wards be retained.

Recommendation 4d – That Bottesford East, Bottesford Central and Bottesford West parish wards retain eight parish councillors each.

Recommendation 4e – That the Director: Governance and Partnerships be requested to publish a Reorganisation Order for the new Community Governance electoral arrangements for Barton Town Council, to come into effect on 2 May 2019.

Amendment lost
Motion Carried

(Councillors Gosling and Swift wished to be recorded as voting against the motion).

23      ADDED ITEM – There was no added item for consideration at the meeting.