To review the draft protocol for the co-option of members to overview and scrutiny committees.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered a draft revised protocol for the co-option of independent members to the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny committees on 28 January 2020. Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution, paragraph 6, stated that ‘The Overview and Scrutiny Committee shall be entitled to recommend to the Council the appointment of appropriate persons as non-voting co-optees.’
Previously, this process had been followed to appoint representatives of the Epping Forest Youth Council and the Chairman of the Tenants and Leaseholders Federation to membership of the former Communities Select Committee. With the introduction of the new Select Committee arrangements at the start of this municipal year, the Service Director (Housing & Property Services) had suggested that the Chairman of the (renamed) Tenants and Leaseholders Forum should be co-opted onto the Stronger Communities Select Committee, whilst the Epping Forest Youth Council was also keen to secure co-opted membership of the same Select Committee.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered proposals for appropriate selection procedures and criteria for the appointment of co-opted members to the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees. It had agreed to bring the co-option of independent members for the Select Committees in line with the existing arrangements for the Audit and Governance Committee, Standards Committee and the Remuneration Panel (which was entirely composed of independent members).
The Members’ Allowances Scheme for the current municipal year provided for the application of an annual allowance of £500.00 for co-opted independent members of an Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Any proposals for revision to this element of the Scheme would be required to be considered by the independent advisory Remuneration Panel, and whose views the Council would be required to take into consideration.
Councillor J H Whitehouse said that she had served on the previous Housing Committee, which had also had co-opted members, and therefore supported this proposal. However, she was not happy with paragraph 1.3 of the Protocol, as it gave the impression that only co-opted members could bring views forward but councillors could as well. The Democratic and Electoral Services Officer replied that this paragraph recognised that co-opted members saw a different side to councillors and officers. It also depended on why that person had been co-opted.
At the suggestion of Councillor J Philip, the Working Group agreed to include a minor amendment to this draft protocol to clarify that it was not only co-opted members, but that councillors also brought views forward. Thus, the inclusion of ‘another’ in paragraph (1.3), last sentence, was made, to read,
‘Co-opted members could also add value to the scrutiny process by considering service provision from a customer perspective and acting as another channel for questions from outside the authority’.
That a report be made to Council recommending:
(1) That ‘another’ at paragraph 1.3 last sentence be included in this draft revised protocol, to read, ‘Co-opted members could also add value to the scrutiny process by considering service provision from a customer perspective and acting as another channel for questions from outside the authority’;
(2) That the draft revised protocol for the co-option of non-elected Members to the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees pursuant to Recommendation (1) above, be recommended to the Council for approval; and
(3) That pursuant to Recommendations (1) and (2) above, the Monitoring Officer be authorised to make necessary revisions to the Council’s Constitution’.