This matter is the responsibility of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts.
The matters set out in this report amount to modest changes to the SWT Constitution. This is to achieve, better clarity, the updating of minor changes and procedural refinement. This will ease the interpretation and effectiveness of the Constitution.
Councillor M Kravis returned to the room.
During the discussion, the following points were raised:-
· Councillors queried why the report had not been taken to a Scrutiny Committee for debate.
The Governance Specialist advised the correct democratic pathway for any changes to the Constitution, was the Audit and Governance Committee followed by Full Council. The report was taken to the Audit and Governance Committee on 13 December 2021.
· Councillors queried why the number of signatures for a petition needed to be raised. Concern was raised that it would lead to fewer petitions being submitted and exclude certain groups from making contact with Full Council.
The Deputy Leader advised that a balance needed to be struck with the figures used. He also advised that it would be good practice to align with the figures used by the other councils in Somerset. However, at this time, he was happy to keep the figure at 200 signatures.
· Councillors queried a section of the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the Phosphates Sub-Committee, which related to who could be a member of the sub-committee. The current ToR stated that only members of the Planning Committee could be a member of the sub-committee, however, they knew of members of the sub-committee that were not members of the Planning Committee.
The Deputy Leader advised that it was not good practice to have non Planning Committee members on the sub-committee but was happy to have a discussion to resolve the matter.
· Councillors requested clarification on the term ‘Motion’ used in different sections of the Constitution and what was the difference between a Motion submitted in advance and a Motion proposed during a debate.
Clarification was given.
· Councillors queried what the asterix meant in some of the titles of the Constitution.
The Governance Specialist advised that those rules marked with an asterix applied to Council and to the Committees.
· Councillors highlighted what they believed to be an error in the section on Petitions on page 318 of the agenda, which related to forwarding on some petitions to the County Council.
This was an error and would be removed.
· Some concern was raised on why the Constitution was being amended in the last year of the Council.
Councillors advised that the Constitution was a ‘living’ document and could be updated at any point to ensure the smooth running of council business.
· The Chair agreed a 10-minute adjournment to allow for a resolution on the query raised on members of the Phosphate Sub-Committee.
The meeting adjourned at 7.05pm.
The meeting restarted at 7.15pm.
The Chair confirmed the following corrections that would be included in the amendments to the Constitution:-
· The number of signatures required for a petition to be valid, would remain at 200.
· The time for a proposer of a motion would remain at 10 minutes.
· Two slight revisions were made in respect of Appendix C1 and C2 pertaining to the Council Procedure Rules. The first was in respect of 26.5 and the language inserted around the Appointment of Substitute Members of Committees. The purpose of these was to correct minor errors or aid in refining procedure.
· The following amendment would be made to the ToR for the Phosphates Sub-Committee:-
The sub-committee may, by majority vote, co-opt up to 2 further councillors to be members of the sub-committee provided that they were suitably qualified substitutes for the purpose of the Planning Committee. Co-opted Members were not entitled to vote.
Resolved that Full Council accepted the proposals, with amendments, from the Deputy Monitoring Officers (DMOs) and delegated to the DMOs the amendments to give effect to the proposals.