Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Andrew Charlwood 020 8359 2014 Email: andrew.charlwood@barnet.gov.uk 

Link: Click here for the meeting

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 232 KB

    Minutes:

    RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting dated 16 January 2020 be agreed as a correct record.

     

2.

Absence of Members

    Minutes:

    None.

     

3.

Disclosable Pecuniary interests and Non Pecuniary interests

    Minutes:

    None.

     

4.

Report of the Monitoring Officer (if any)

    Minutes:

    None.

     

5.

Public Question and Comments (if any)

    Minutes:

    None.

     

6.

Members Item (if any)

    Minutes:

    None.

     

7.

Electoral Services - Overview Report 2019 pdf icon PDF 267 KB

    Minutes:

    The Committee noted that Appendix A (Electoral Services – Overview Report 2019) had not been included in the published agenda.  Officers apologised to the Committee for this oversight.  It was agreed that Appendix A should be presented to the next meeting of the committee on 12 January 2021.

     

    The Head of Electoral Services, John Bailey, presented the item and outlined some of the key activities undertaken in 2019.  He reported that a short notice EU election had been held in May 2019 and a General Election in December 2019.  Both had been successfully delivered.  It was noted that the General Election had resulted in the annual canvass being cut short due to the requirement to publish the register of electors in advance of the election.

     

    The Committee were informed that as at 18 September 2020 there were 269,000 electors on the electoral register.  However, as this is during the annual canvass period the number is likely to change significantly, as electors are removed and join the register.

     

    The Covid-19 pandemic was having a significant impact on the conduct of the annual canvass and specifically, face-to-face door knocking is not a Covid secure activity and has been suspended for the current canvass.  The Committee were informed that the Government had introduced legislative changes to the annual canvass in December 2019.  Due to this, in June, the register of electors had been sent to the Cabinet Office for data matching with records held by the Department of Work and Pensions.  Barnet had a 77% match rate which is known to be one of the highest in London. As a result, most households (118,000) in Barnet received a form which states that a response is onlt required if information needs to be updated.  For the remaining 47,000 households, Household Enquiry Forms (HEFs) had been sent out in August and a response is required – even if there are no updates.   It was reported that the law now allowed the Councils to contact households by phone and email to check records where a response had not been received and this is expected to reduce the instances where a  visit to the property would have been  required previously.

     

    In relation to the conduct of the General Election in December 2019, it was reported that turnout in Barnet was 70.4%, compared to 67.5% in London and 67.3% nationally.   In the lead up to the election, there had been very large increases in registration, postal vote and proxy vote applications being made. 

     

    It was noted that the London Mayoral and GLA elections scheduled for May 2020 had been deferred until May 2021.  Whilst preparations are already underway, delivering this election will be exceptionally challenging due to Covid and the many additional measures that will be required to be put in place.  For example, all polling venues will need to be reviewed and extra staff required to manage queues. In addition there will be special arrangements required for postal vote opening and verification to make that process safe  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Implementing the Final Recommendations from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) pdf icon PDF 945 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chief Exectutive, John Hooton, and the Head of Assurance and Business Development, Emily Bowler, introduced the report which summarised the next steps for implementing the final recommendations from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) on the future electoral arrangements for Barnet Council. 

     

    The Committee noted that the proposed approach to implementing the recommendations and the four proposed workstreams covering: Electoral Services; Governance; Insight; and Stakeholder Engagement.

     

    Details relating to the Member Working Group would be developed in the new year.  The Committee noted the request that the Liberal Democrat Group be involved in the Group and that the membership of the Group should be drawn from members of this Committee.

     

    RESOLVED that the Committee notes that, following Parliamentary approval of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) recommendations, council officers in consultation with Barnet’s Returning Officer, will complete a programme of work to implement the new electoral arrangements in the London Borough of Barnet.  This will include completing the new set of polling districts and polling places to facilitate the administration of statutory elections within the new ward boundaries.  There will be engagement with elected members throughout the process.

     

9.

Area Planning Committees and the Boundary Review pdf icon PDF 211 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Head of Governance introduced a report which proposed changes to planning committee arrangements in the light of the ward boundary changes and other issues.

     

    Some Members suggested that changes to area planning committee arrangements should be considered as part of the implementation of the boundary review recommendations as referred to in minute item 8. above.

     

    Following discussion on the report, the Chairman moved to vote on the recommendations set out in the report.  The votes were recorded as follows:

     

    For

    4

    Against

    3

    Abstain

    0

     

    RESOLVED that:

     

    1.     The Committee recommend to Council that the Constitution be amended to incorporate the changes set out in the report and the amended versions attached at Appendices A and B.

     

    2.     The Committee recommend to Council that the implementation of the changes referred to at 1. above is effective from 1 November 2020.

     

10.

Constitution Review pdf icon PDF 455 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Monitoring Officer, Jessica Farmer, presented a report which contained various proposed Constitution amendments including some changes which would enable the Council to comply with the best practice recommendations included in the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on Local Government Ethical Standards.

     

    In relation to Appendices J and K (HR Regulations), the Committee agreed to retain the current requirements around advertising and recruiting to Assistant Director level and above posts.

     

    In relation to section 1.2, 4. of the report, (Appendices H and I (Full Council Procedure Rules), sections 9 and 17.4 and 17.5), the Chairman proposed that each Group only be permitted to table one amendment per motion which was duly seconded by Councillor Richard Cornelius.  Following discussion on this matter, the Chairman moved to vote on the matter. The votes were recorded as follows:

     

    For

    4

    Against

    3

    Abstain

    0

     

    RESOLVED that:

     

    1.     The Committee agree the actions to comply with the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Local Government Ethical Standards best practice recommendations as detailed in Appendix A.

     

    2.     The Committee instruct the Monitoring Officer to circulate to all Members:

     

                     i.          the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on Local Government Ethical Standards;

                   ii.          the best practice guidelines and actions as detailed in Appendix B; and

                 iii.          the revised and updated Members Code of Conduct (Appendix C)

     

    3.     The Committee request that the Monitoring Officer and Head of Governance develop a comprehensive code of procedure to be followed at any meeting of the Standards Committee and bring it back to a future meeting. 

     

    4.     The Committee recommend to Council that the Constitution be amended to incorporate the changes set out in this report and the amended versions attached at Appendices B to U subject to the following:

     

    Appendices B and C (Members Code of Conduct)

    Retain the value of declarable gifts and hospitality at £25 rather than £100 as proposed in section 9 of the Member Code of Conduct

    Appendices H and I

    (Full Council Procedure Rules)

    Amend sections 9, 17.4 and 17.5 so that each Group are only be permitted to table one amendment per motion.

    Appendices H and I

    (Full Council Procedure Rules)

    Defer consideration of the speaking rights of the Liberal Democrat Group on motions to a future meeting of the Committee.

    Appendices J and K (HR Regulations)

    Retain the current requirements around advertising and recruiting to posts at Assistant Director level and above.

    Appendices L and M (Financial Regulations)

    Amend section 3.3.10 to include sending a copy of alternative budgets to the Monitoring Officer as well as the Chief Finance Officer.

    Appendices N and O

    (Article 7)

    Include equalities in the terms of reference of the Policy & Resources Committee and not the Community Leadership & Libraries Committee as proposed.

     

11.

Code of Conduct Allegations 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 307 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Monitoring Officer, Jessica Farmer, presented a report which detailed complaints the Monitoring Officer had received about Member conduct during 2019/20.

     

    RESOLVED that the Committee note the update as set out in Appendix A.

     

12.

Member Development Programme pdf icon PDF 434 KB