Constitution Committee Minutes

Constitution Committee Minutes

Friday 20 April 2012
2:30 p.m.
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough

Attendance Details

Councillor S E Bloundele (Chair), Councillor J Brunton, Councillor D Budd, Councillor J Hobson, Councillor R Lowes, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor C M Rooney, Councillor J Rostron, Councillor N J Walker
Councillor S Khan
S Harker and R Long
Apologies for absence:
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest.

Item Number Item/Resolution

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 10, the Committee agreed to vary the order of business to deal with the items in the following order: Agenda Item 4, Agenda Item 3, Agenda Item 5, and Agenda Item 6.

Reports of the Director of Legal and Democratic Services

A report was presented to propose a change to the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules as set out in the Council Constitution.


At a recent Overview and Scrutiny Board (OSB) meeting, convened to consider the Call-In of an Executive Decision, the Member who had initiated the Call-In asked for the reasons for the Call-In to be presented by a third party. Whilst the Chair allowed the request on that occasion, clarification on procedure had been requested.

The purpose of Call-In was to enable non-Executive Members to challenge an Executive decision. The Overview and Scrutiny Procedures contained in the Constitution made provision for the Board to call Officers, other Members or third parties to assist in consideration of a matter.


Members considered suggested additions to the wording of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules in order to provide clarification. It was agreed that any witnesses attending a Call-In should only be permitted to give factual evidence.



1. the following additional paragraphs be inserted into the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules in the   Council Constitution:


15(c) At the meeting considering the Call-In, the reasons for the Call-In will be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Board by the member who has initiated the Call-In, or one of the other signatories to the Call-In. Paragraphs 13 and 14 above shall apply equally to Call-Ins.


15(d) If the member who initiated the Call-In wants a person who is not a member or an officer of the authority to appear as a witness, then the permission of the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board must be sought at least three clear working days prior to the date of the Call-In meeting.


15(e) Any person appearing at a Call-In as a witness may only provide factual evidence.


2. subsequent paragraphs were re-numbered accordingly.



The Committee received a report, the purpose of which was to consider and approve the Council’s draft Members’ Code of Conduct, which would come into effect on 1 July 2012. On 15 November 2011, the Localism Act gained Royal Assent and amongst other provisions the Act introduced a number of significant changes to the current Standards regime, which were detailed in the submitted report.


The Association of County Secretaries and Solicitors (ACSeS) had prepared a ‘model’ code which was considered and amended by the Standards Committee on 13 March 2012. A copy of the Draft Code, as amended, was attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report. The Standards Committee had referred the Draft Code to the Constitution Committee and then to Council for consideration and approval.


The Director of Legal and Democratic Services highlighted that since the Standards Committee had approved the Draft Code at Appendix 1, further advice had been received from the Department for Communities and Local Government in relation to pecuniary interests and details were included in paragraphs 7a and 7b of the submitted report as follows:


7a) Unless dispensation has been granted you must not participate in any discussion of, vote on, or discharge of any function related to any matter in which you have a pecuniary interest as defined by regulations made by the Secretary of State.


7b) You must, within 28 days of taking office as a Member or Co-opted Member, notify the Monitoring Officer of any disclosable pecuniary interest or non-pecuniary interest for entry in the register of interests. Where a change of your circumstances gives rise to a disclosable pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest this must also be notified to the monitoring officer for entry in the register of interests.


Training in relation to the new Code of Conduct would be provided for all Members following consideration of the draft Code by Council at the Annual Meeting.




1. the ACSeS Model Code, as amended by the Standards Committee, be approved.
2. the additional paragraphs at 7a and 7b be incorporated into the Council’s Code of Conduct.
3. the draft Code of Conduct, as approved, be remitted to the Annual Meeting of the Council for implementation with effect from 1 July 2012.


A report was presented to inform Members of management structure changes and delegations to officers. Details of the changes were outlined in the submitted report and related to posts and delegations within Children Families and Learning, Community Protection and Legal and Democratic Services.


In order to incorporate these amendments, the necessary changes would be made to Part 6: Council’s Management Structure, and other sections of the Constitution: Part 3: Responsibility for Functions - Schemes of Delegation; Appendices: Statutory Officer Profiles and Proper Officer Functions.


RECOMMENDED that the changes be agreed and the Constitution amended as necessary.


The Director of Legal and Democratic Services presented a report that outlined matters relating to the Constitution raised by Members for consideration:


(a) Use of mobile devices during council meetings - Referral from Council


“At a meeting of Council held on 11 January 2012, Members recommended that consideration be given to the use of mobile devices (mobile phones, iPads, laptops etc) to record proceedings and engage with external social media sources (eg twitter) during meetings.”


Attention had been drawn to the increasing numbers of Members who were using mobile devices for texting and tweeting during meetings. The Council’s IT Protocol required Members to be mindful as to whether the Code of Conduct applied when using social media.


The Council did not currently have a policy on the matter.


RECOMMENDED as follows: -


1. During Council meetings all mobile devices should be switched to silent mode.

2. No video, voice calls, recordings or photographs to be made or taken without the agreement of the Chair.

3. Texting and tweeting would be permitted, providing it did not interfere with the conduct of the business.

4. The use of all mobile devices would be prohibited during all Council meetings when the public were excluded.


(b) Council Meeting Agenda


Members were asked to give consideration to amending the order of the agenda for Council meetings.  Specific reference was made to amount of time taken in consideration of the Executive Reports, and a suggestion was made that this item could be moved to the end of the agenda. However, it was highlighted that intention of allowing questions and comments to Executive Members was an opportunity for Members to hold the Executive to account.


Members were reminded that the content of the Council agenda had been consulted on previously and there was a natural progression to the items.


RECOMMENDED that no further action be taken in respect of this item.



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