Agenda item

Report of the Constitution Review Task and Finish Group

Appendix i, a track changed version of the Constitution, is available online, but has not been included in the agenda pack.


The Deputy Head of Legal Practice presented this report, which detailed the final report of the Constitution Review Task and Finish Group, following the request of the Committee at its last meeting on 3 December 2019 to giver further consideration to a number of issues and report back.


Submissions from the public

The Chairman explained that he was aware of two submissions received from the public on this agenda item. He had accepted the request to speak from Daniel Fulton but had rejected a second submission which he only received that morning.


Daniel Fulton addressed the Committee and made the following points:

·         He thanked Councillor Claire Daunton for an e-mail related to this issue.

·         He expressed concern that no explanation had been given by Planning Committee members for their decision to agree the changes.

·         He stated that the political majority of the Council needed to explain its decisions.

·         He highlighted his suggested amendments to the planning delegation rules, which were a compromise that did not affect non major applications.

·         He understood that under the City Council’s rules, any resident could “call-in a planning application to Planning Committee.

·         Under this Council’s rules, the Planning Director decided whether an application was considered by the Planning Committee and he felt that this was wrong.

·         He explained that the changes agreed by the Planning Committee affected planning applications in Willingham, Lonstanton and Knapwell, all of which should be considered by the Planning Committee.

·         He thanked the Chairman for giving him the opportunity to speak.


Powers and Functions Delegated by the Planning Committee

It was noted that the details of the Powers and Functions Delegated by the Planning Committee on pages 401-7 in the agenda, was the version agreed by the Planning Committee on 12 February 2020. The amendments detailed on pages 263-9, showed the changes submitted to the Task and Finish Group but had been superceded by the updated scheme of delegation agreed by the Planning Committee.


Councillor Aidan Van de Weyer proposed and Councillor Mark Howell seconded the suggestion that changes to planning delegations should be voted on separately by the Committee, so the Committee’s level of support for different amendments to the Constitution was clear. The Chairman accepted this proposal. Councillor Heather Williams stated that it would be inappropriate to pre-empt the decision that Council would take on 2 April and so the proposal from the Committee should be flexible regarding planning delegations to take into consideration both the uncertain outcome of Council’s decision and the fact that Planning Committee had only voted 5 to 4 in favour of the change.


Members of the Committee made the following points:

·         The Planning Committee was apolitical and made its decision, which should be respected.

·         Power should not be taken away from elected Councillors.

·         The Task and Finish Group examined this matter in great detail.


A vote was taken on whether to support the amendments to the Powers and Functions Delegated by the Planning Committee and with 7 votes in favour, 1 against and 0 abstentions, the Committee agreed to support the amendment.


Minor grammatical amendments

The Chairman stated that the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee, would have the authority to make minor amendments to the draft Constitution, so he requested that if the Committee members were aware of any such changes, they should refer these to the Clerk.


Anti-Theft and Corruption Policy

The Democratic Services Team Leader explained most Councils did not include the Anti-Theft, Fraud and Corruption Policy and the complementary Whistleblowing Policy within their Constitutions. However, the Financial Regulations included a specific section on these policies, including a requirement for the Chief Financial Officer to ensure that they were subject to periodic review and for Chief Officers/Directors to ensure their staff were aware of the policies. The Task and Finish Group had therefore been assured that appropriate provisions for ensuring the policies were maintained and reviewed were contained in the Constitution.


The Committee unanimously supported this approach.


Amendments to rest of the Constitution

It was stated that the Task and Finish Group had worked in great detail on these proposals and their judgement should be respected. A vote was taken and the Committee voted unanimously to support the remaining amendments to the Constitution.


The Committee


NOTED           the response of the Constitution Review Task and Finish Group in respect of the matters referred back by the Committee at the last Committee.




A)        To approve the revisions to the relevant Sections of the Constitution as set out in Appendices A to C, D2, E and F1-F4 (subject to noting that Table 5, Powers and Functions Delegated by the Planning Committee, had been superseded by the versions in Appendix H on pages 401-7 of the agenda).


B)        To approve the recommendations of the Constitution Review Task and Finish Group, as set out in Appendix G


C)        To authorise the Chief Executive, after consultation with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee, to make any further typographical or minor amendments to the draft Constitution prior to its submission to Council.


RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL      to adopt the revised Constitution (Appendix H), Ethical Handbook (Appendix J), Public Speaking Scheme (Appendix K1) and Petitions Scheme (Appendix K2) with effect from the new Municipal Year.

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