Your Councillors

Democracy Committee

28 January 2016

Is the final decision on the recommendations in this report to be made at this meeting?

Yes

 

Outside Body Review – part one

 

Final Decision-Maker

Democracy Committee

Lead Head of Service

Paul Riley, Head of Finance and Resources

Lead Officer and Report Author

Tessa Ware, Democratic Services Officer

Classification

Public

Wards affected

All

 

 

This report makes the following recommendations to this Committee:

 

1.   That the Democratic Services Committee continues with the review of Outside Bodies and establishes which Outside Bodies link with the Council’s priorities and Service Committees of the Council and consider withdrawing Member involvement where links are tentative or unproductive for both parties.  The review could also create a formal communication process between the Council, Member representatives of Outside Bodies and the Outside Body.  For example by providing a regular item on the agenda for the relevant committee for Outside Body updates.

 

 

 

This report relates to the following corporate priorities:

·         Keeping Maidstone Borough an attractive place for all and Securing a successful economy for Maidstone Borough – by working with external bodies in promoting the borough as a place to live, work and visit.

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Democracy Committee

28 January 2016



Outside Body Review – part one

 

 

1.        PURPOSE OF REPORT AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

1.1     At their meeting of 3 November 2015 the Democracy Committee agreed to carry out a review of Outside Bodies with a view to aligning them with the relevant Service Committee.

 

1.2     The Committee agreed to an initial review being carried out to establish how useful Councillor membership was to the Outside Bodies.  Once this stage had been reported back the Committee would decide on the appropriateness of Member involvement in continuing the review, for example through a working group.

 

1.3     This report provides details of the responses to a questionnaire sent to Outside Bodies as well as other information to help the Committee decide how and if they wish to proceed with the review.

 

 

 

2.        INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

2.1     A survey of Outside Bodies was carried out during November and December 2015 to establish how useful Councillor membership was to the Outside Bodies.  Two reminders to respond to the survey were sent.

 

2.2     Maidstone Borough Council supports 41 Outside Bodies.  Of the 41 the following were not included in the survey:

 

Table 1

Outside Body

Reason not surveyed

 

Bentliff Wing Trust

Automatic membership for the Mayor

Administered by the Council

Brenchley Charity

Administered by the Council

Cutbush and Corrall

Administered by the Council

Headcorn Aerodrome Consultative Committee

Administered by the Council

Mid Kent Downs Steering Group

Administered by the Council

Kent Downs AONB Joint Advisory Committee

The Chairman of the Mid Kent Downs Steering Group is automatically appointed – if an MBC chairman is not appointed we have no provision to administer this

Relief in Need Charity

Administered by the Council

Kent County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Partner – Chairman of Communities, Housing and Environment Committee is automatically appointed

Kent County Council Youth Advisory Group

Partner

Kent and Medway Crime Panel

Partner – Leader automatically appointed

Kent Partnership

Partner – Leader automatically appointed

Local Government Association General Assembly

Partner – Leader automatically appointed

South East Employers

Partner

 

Youth and Community Charity

Partner

 

Quality Bus Partnership

Partner

 

Maidstone Sea Cadets

Building leased from Council until 2019 – Cabinet decision 4 December 2009

 

2.3     The following table shows the 22 Outside Bodies that were surveyed and whether or not they responded to the survey.  Of the 22, 14 responded:

 

Table 2

Outside Bodies surveyed

Response received Y/N

Action with Communities in Rural Kent

Yes

Age UK

No

Allington Millennium Green Trust

Yes

Citizens Advice Bureau

Yes

Hermitage Lane Liaison Group

No

Howard de Walden Centre

Yes

Kent County Playing Fields Association

Yes

Maidstone Area Arts Partnership

Yes

Maidstone Mediation

No

Maidstone Street Pastors

Yes

Maidstone Town Centre Management/Maidstone Town Centre Liaison Group

Yes

Maidstone YMCA

No

Maidstone-Beauvais Twinning Association

Yes

Maidstone MIND

Yes

Parking And Traffic Regulations Outside London Joint Committee (PATROLJC)

Yes

Relate West and Mid Kent

No

Rochester Bridge Trust

Yes

Upper Medway Internal Drainage Board

Yes

Vinters Valley Park Trust

Yes

Kent Community Rail Partnership

No

Maidstone Cycling Forum

No

South East Rail passenger Group

No

 

2.4     The results of the responses received are attached as Appendix A. The full response from Citizens Advice Bureau is attached as Appendix B.

2.5     Where the Outside Body’s Councillor member is different in Appendix B to our records this had been noted in brackets in the final column.  The Outside Body has been contacted to highlight this.

 

2.6     The Constitution provides details of some links that Chairmen of Service Committees should make with Outside Bodies.  These are outlined below:

 

Table 3

Committee

Links with Outside Bodies in Constitution

Policy and Resources Committee

Kent Health and Wellbeing Board

Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee

Transport interest groups such as Quality Bus partnership, transport users groups and rail stakeholder groups

Communities, Housing and Environment Committee

Citizens Advice Bureau, Maidstone Mediation, Kent Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Heritage Culture and Leisure Committee

Town Centre Management, Maidstone Area Arts Partnership

 

2.7     The Council provides financial support to the Citizens Advice Bureau and provides premises for Maidstone Sea Scouts at a significantly reduced rent.  The Council provides administrative support to six Outside Bodies shown in Table 1.

 

2.8     To date the following Outside Bodies have vacancies, the numbers in brackets indicates the total number of Member places on the Outside Body:

 

o   Action with Communities in Rural Kent – one (2)

o   Maidstone-Beauvais Twinning Association – two (4)

o   Relate West and Mid Kent – one (1)

o   South East Employers – one (2)

 

2.9     The Constitution states that the Council has responsibility for appointing councillors to sit on Outside Bodies, except for those appointments which are delegated to the Democracy Committee. The functions of the Democracy Committee include “To appoint Council nominees to outside bodies…as appropriate”. There is therefore no clarity in the Constitution about which Committee has responsibility for the appointments.  However, it is recommended to the Committee for the purposes of this review, that if it recommends that the Council withdraws support for particular Outside Bodies, it refers the final decision to Council.

 

 

 

3.        AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

3.1     The Committee could decide to do nothing.  The administration of Outside Bodies is minimal in terms of officer time except at the beginning of the municipal year.  However, at the present time there is no formal process linking the Outside Bodies and the work of the Committees or the Council as a whole.  This could have an adverse effect on the Council’s relationships with Outside Bodies and the effectiveness of the relationship. There is also lack of clarity in the Constitution about responsibility for appointing councillors to Outside Bodies.

 

3.2     The Committee could decide to continue with the review and establish which Outside Bodies link with the Council’s priorities and Service Committees of the Council and consider withdrawing Member involvement where links are tentative or unproductive for both parties.  The review could also create a formal communication process between the Council, Member representatives of Outside Bodies and the Outside Body;  for example by providing a regular item on the agenda for the relevant committee for Outside Body updates.

 

 

4.        PREFERRED OPTION AND REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

4.1     The preferred option is 3.2 above.

 

4.2     It would appear there is a considerable amount of Member time and energy is spent supporting Outside Bodies with no formal reporting process between the Member and the rest of the Council.  Setting up a formal, non-onerous, reporting process would benefit both the Council and the Outside Body.

 

4.3     A continuation of the review would provide further information to help the Committee decide which, if any, Outside Body memberships are dormant or unproductive and perhaps warrant the withdrawal of Council support.  The absence of a response to the survey should not necessarily be considered a lack of engagement on the part of the Outside Body.

 

 

 

5.       NEXT STEPS: COMMUNICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECISION

 

5.1     If the Committee decide to extend the review this could be carried out and the results reported back to the Committee at a meeting in March.  If the Committee decide to withdraw support for any Outside Bodies this would allow time for any recommendations to be presented to Full Council on 13 April 2016

 


 

6.       CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

Keeping Maidstone Borough an attractive place for all and Securing a successful economy for Maidstone Borough – by working with external bodies in promoting the borough as a place to live, work and visit.

Head of Finance & Resources

Risk Management

 

[Head of Service or Manager]

Financial

The Council does not support outside bodies through grant aid. Only the Citizen’s Advice Bureau receives a grant of this type. It is not expected that the recommendations in this report will have financial implications.

Head of Finance & Resources

Staffing

 

[Head of Service]

Legal

The Legal comments are incorporated into the report

Deputy Head of the Legal Partnership

Equality Impact Needs Assessment

Some outside bodies are aimed at groups of people with protected characteristics however there are no equality implications in continuing with the review.

Clare Wood, Policy & Performance Officer

Environmental/Sustainable Development

 

[Head of Service or Manager]

Community Safety

 

[Head of Service or Manager]

Human Rights Act

 

[Head of Service or Manager]

Procurement

 

[Head of Service & Section 151 Officer]

Asset Management

 

[Head of Service & Manager]

 

7.        REPORT APPENDICES

 

The following documents are to be published with this report and form part of the report:

·         Appendix A – Outside Body Responses to survey

·         Appendix B – Full survey response from Citizens Advice Bureau