Councillor G. Denaro, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the report, which he explained was necessary following recent political group movements. He understood that those affected by the changes had been consulted and had been in agreement to the committee membership numbers detailed in the appendix to the report.
The recommendations were proposed by Councillor Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. May.
Councillor P. McDonald challenged the accuracy of the calculation and advised Members that the Overview and Scrutiny Board was one of the most important parts of the Council. He questioned the calculation in respect of the rounding up and down of the figures for that Board and the Planning Committee and suggested that the figures had been manipulated to the advantage of the leading Group. He asked for the item to be deferred in order for the anomalies he referred to be addressed. This was supported by Councillor L. Mallett.
Councillor Denaro responded that he and the leading group had played no part in the discussions that he understood had taken place between the Group Leaders as the changes that had arisen did not impact on the leading group. It was his understanding that the three groups concerned had agreed what was in front of Council this evening.
During the following debate a number of areas were discussed including:
· The impact of a number of dormant committees on the calculations and the removal of those committees from the calculation.
· Consideration being given to the bottom line of the calculation and the impact this had on committee places for some groups.
· The item be deferred and further consideration be given to the figures as there seemed to be a degree of misunderstanding of the formula of the mathematical calculation.
· The matter be considered by the Constitution Review Working Group, with particular consideration being given to the removal of the dormant committees from the calculation/constitution or combined with other committees.
· Why the points raised had not been considered prior to Council as the Group Leaders had been aware of the situation for some time.
The Monitoring Officer clarified that all Group Leaders had been consulted and that the political balance rules were straightforward and had been adhered to with the bottom line reflecting the overall majority. The additional dormant committees referred to were in the Council’s Constitution and therefore had to be included within the calculation. Any changes that were suggested would need to be considered in the first instance by the Constitution Review Working Group with a report coming before full Council if appropriate.
Whilst Councillor McDonald acknowledged that he had been advised of the changes he was given to understand that there was nothing he could do and he believed that this was completely wrong. The Chief Executive again confirmed that officers had worked within the parameters of the law when preparing the calculation for the report.
On being put to the vote the amendment to defer the report was lost.
a) the Committees set out in the table at appendix 1 of the report be appointed and that the representation of the different political groups on the Council on those committees be as set out in that table until the next Annual Meeting of the Council, or until the next review of political representation under Section15, of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, whichever is earlier, be approved; and
b) Members be appointed to the Committees and as substitute members in accordance with the nominations to be made by Group Leaders, as attached at appendix 1 of these minutes.