Venue: Mountbatten Room, EII Court, Winchester
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Apologies for absence
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Martin James.
Declarations of interest
All Members who believe they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in any matter to be considered at the meeting must declare that interest and, having regard to Part 3 Paragraph 1.5 of the County Council's Members’ Code of Conduct, leave the meeting while the matter is discussed, save for exercising any right to speak in accordance with Paragraph 1.6 of the Code. Furthermore all Members with a Personal Interest in a matter being considered at the meeting should consider, having regard to Part 5, Paragraph 4 of the Code, whether such interest should be declared, and having regard to Part 5, Paragraph 5 of the Code, consider whether it is appropriate to leave the meeting while the matter is discussed, save for exercising any right to speak in accordance with the Code.
Members were mindful that where they believed they had a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in any matter considered at the meeting they must declare that interest at the time of the relevant debate and, having regard to the circumstances described in Part 3, Paragraph 1.5 of the County Council's Members' Code of Conduct, leave the meeting while the matter was discussed, save for exercising any right to speak in accordance with Paragraph 1.6 of the Code. Furthermore Members were mindful that where they believed they had a Non-Pecuniary interest in a matter being considered at the meeting they considered whether such interest should be declared, and having regard to Part 5, Paragraph 2 of the Code, considered whether it was appropriate to leave the meeting whilst the matter was discussed, save for exercising any right to speak in accordance with the Code.
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting held on 29 September 2021.
The minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2021 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive any deputations notified under Standing Order 12.
There were no deputations on this occasion.
To receive any announcements the Chairman may wish to make.
The Chairman noted that despite being unable to attend the meeting, Martin James had contributed his thoughts on the items for consideration and that these would be taken into account.
To consider amendments to the current Members’ Allowances Scheme in regard to a number of Special Responsibility Allowances as set out in the report.
The IRP considered the report of the Monitoring Officer regarding Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) for a number of different roles and the recommendation of potential subsequent updates to the Members’ Allowances Scheme.
The Panel acknowledged the information that had been provided to them in respect of all of the SRAs in the report and noted that they had also taken the opportunity of conducting benchmarking comparisons with other Councils to use as a point of reference.
Deputy Leader SRA
With regard to an SRA for the role of Deputy Leader, the Panel heard from the Monitoring Officer who confirmed that this was a statutory position to which one of the Executive Members must be appointed and who is automatically required to act in place of the Leader in the Leader’s absence. The Panel also heard from the Chief Executive, who illustrated the Deputy Leader role and in particular the need to be up to speed on all topics in order to be able to represent the Leader through her own knowledge of the multi-faceted ways in which Leader and Deputy Leader work together, as well as through comparison with her own experience of being a Deputy Chief Executive. She noted that the role of Deputy Leader added vital capacity and support to the Leader in their role in charge of a large and complex organisation. The Leader of the Council also addressed the Panel, explaining that he had previously been Deputy Leader for three years, highlighting the importance of a seamless partnership between Deputy Leader and Leader.
The Panel recognised that the scale of the County Council brought significant pressures on the leadership and noted that although the Deputy Leader did not hold any specific additional decision making responsibility, the role should be particularly recognised in terms of Executive responsibility and representing the County Council within the administrative area of the County Council and the wider community, and consequent reputational significance. It was noted that many other Authorities do pay a Deputy Leader SRA. It was proposed and agreed to recommend to the County Council that:
An SRA for the Deputy Leader equivalent to 70% of the Leader’s SRA be added to the Members’ Allowances Scheme, to be backdated to the 2022 County Council AGM. That this be subject to review in 12 months.
Opposition Group Leader SRA
With regards to the review of the SRA for Opposition Group Leaders and Opposition Spokespersons, the Panel noted that these were longstanding areas of discussion and expressed their ambition of a solution that was inclusive, future proofed and evidence based. Considering the Group Leader SRA first, the Panel heard from the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and the Leaders of the Labour and Independent Groups. It was established that there was no formal Leader of the Opposition role – each Group was a separate opposition to the Administration. The Councillors highlighted a number of key elements of their respective roles and in was noted in particular that the Group Leader role was similar ... view the full minutes text for item 14.