To consider the establishment of a Westmorland and Furness Council Joint Committee.
The Leader of the Council and Promoting South Lakeland and Innovation Portfolio Holder presented a report which recommended that a Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee be established by the Councils making up the Westmorland and Furness Council.
As part of the Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) process, the Council had a requirement to establish a Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee within fourteen days of the Structural Changes Order (SCO) coming into force, with the Joint Committee being dissolved in accordance with the SCO, on the day following the first Shadow Authority for Westmorland and Furness Council meeting.
The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder informed Members that the Cumbria Monitoring Officers had recommended that one authority should host the Joint Committee and that South Lakeland District Council had agreed to host the Joint Committee meetings. He added that the suggested terms of reference had been attached at Appendix 1 to the report and were based on the content of the SCO laid before Parliament on 24 January 2022.
The report set out the Membership requirements of the Joint Committee, which would be comprised of three nominated persons from each District Council as well as the County Council. For South Lakeland District Council, the political balance of appointments was two Liberal Democrats (with one being an Executive Councillor) and one Conservative.
In a response to a question regarding public attendance at Joint Committee meetings, the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) informed Members that the Joint Committee meetings would fall under the Local Government Act 1972 requirement to be held in public regulations regarding public access to information would apply. She added that although some Agenda Items may contain confidential information and this may not be available to the public, the Joint Committee meetings would, as much as possible be kept in the public domain.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the establishment of the Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee be agreed, as detailed in the report and to the terms of reference attached at Appendix 1 to the report;
(2) the executive functions within the Terms of Reference be delegated to the Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee; and
(3) Council be recommended to:-
(a) agree to the establishment of the Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee as detailed in the report and to the terms of reference attached at Appendix 1 to the report;
(b) delegate the Non-Executive Functions within the Terms of Reference to the Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee;
(c) delegates to the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Leader and Chairman, the making of any minor changes to the terms of reference following consideration by other councils making up the Joint Committee;
(d) authorise the Monitoring Officer to make the necessary amendments to the Council’s Constitution and to update the Council’s scheme of delegation in Part 3 of the Constitution;
(e) receive nominations and makes appointments to the positions on the Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee in accordance with the political representation / balance calculation;
(f) agree that South Lakeland District Council act as the host authority; and
(g) agree that this Joint Committee is the Westmorland and Furness Joint Committee for the purposes of the Cumbria (Structural Changes) Order 2022.
Reason for Decision
The Council is required to establish a Joint Committee within 14 days of the approval of the Cumbria Structural Changes Order 2022. The report ensures that we comply with the requirements of the order.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Members could decide not to proceed with a Joint Committee until the Order is made. However, speed is of the essence and it is considered that this will be more transparent and provide clarity on decision making and ensure that the Council is ready for Local Government Reorganisation. The Council is required to comply with the Structural Changes Order, not proceeding with the establishment of the Joint Committee would place the Council in breach of the provisions of the Order.