To consider a report of Cabinet seeking approval of changes to the Constitution, Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.
The Council considered the report of Cabinet seeking approval of changes to the Constitution, Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.
In presenting the report the Leader referred to the recommendation to increase the key decision threshold from £1m to £2m. He drew Members attention to paragraph 1.1 (b) of the report detailing the second criteria determining a key decision: “to be significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more electoral divisions in the County Council’s administrative area.” This meant that decision matters, including significant policy decisions falling into the second criteria could in financial terms, be considerably less than the £2m financial threshold and would still be determined as a ‘key’ decision.
During the course of debate concern was expressed about the raising of the financial threshold determining a key decision and the possible effect on the public’s perception of democratic accountability and transparency, the ease for which Members, and particularly Opposition Spokespersons, would be aware of forthcoming decisions and whether those decisions were improving the County Council’s carbon footprint.
The Leader responded and confirmed that the proposed changes were not intended to lessen transparency or Member engagement and were designed to support business efficiency. However, processes to support Opposition Spokespersons awareness of forthcoming decisions would be looked at. He also highlighted that any matter submitted to an Executive Member for decision was published in advance to facilitate Member engagement and supported by a full risk assessment. The Leader would be asking officers to look into the specific questions raised by Members which would be responded to outside of the meeting.
In accordance with Standing Order 22.3 Councillor House called for a recorded vote which was supported by the required 10 Members, the outcome of which was:
For - 49:
Councillors: Adams-King, Bains, Bowerman, Branson, Briggs, Broomfield, Burgess, Carpenter, R Cooper, Curnow-Ford, Davies, Drew, Dunning, Fairhurst, Ford, Forster, Glen, Harvey, Hayre, Henderson, Heron, Huggins, Humby, Jackman, Joy, Kemp-Gee, Latham, Lumby, Mans, McEvoy, Meenaghan, Mocatta, Mummalaneni, K North, P North, Oppenheimer, Pankhurst, Parker, Parker-Jones, Penman, Philpott, Quantrill, Reid, Stallard, Thacker, Thierry, Vaughan, Warwick and Withers.
Councillors: Chegwyn, Collett, Craig, Crawford, Groves, Harrison, Hiscock, House, Irish, Park, Porter, Price, Taylor, Tod, Tustain and Wade.
That the County Council:
a) Agree an increase of the current financial threshold for a Key Decision (£1 million) to £2 million.
b) Agree the revised approvals required in the case of STAs, authority levels and purchasing / tendering procedures and thresholds as proposed at Paragraphs 15 - 21 of the Cabinet report, and consequential revisions to Contract Standing Orders as indicated at Appendix 1 of the Cabinet report
c) Agree the increases in the approval limits relating to Capital Expenditure contained in Financial Regulations as proposed at Paragraph 22 of the Cabinet report.
d) Delegates authority to the Monitoring Officer to amend the Constitution, Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulations, to give effect to the recommendations at (a), (b) and (c) of this report.