Agenda item

Review of the Constitution


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services presented the report. He said that an Officer and Member Constitution Review Group had been set up to undertake a comprehensive review of the Constitution and recommend any amendments to Council.


Councillor Williamson proposed the recommendation in the report. He said the review was a comprehensive exercise and now hoped that the council had a document that was fit for purpose and would assist the council as it moved into the next Civic Year. Reviewing the Constitution would be a continuous, rolling exercise as and when required. He thanked the Head of Legal and Democratic Services and the Democratic Services Manager for providing helpful guidance, the Officers and Members involved in the review.


Councillor Deering seconded the recommendation. He thanked the Officers and the Member Group for their hard work.


Councillor Dumont asked how the Town and Parish Councillors would be chosen to sit on the Standards Committee and whether they would be voting members. He said that the addition of Leader’s Announcements at Council was a good idea. He suggested that the time limit of 15 minutes for Members Questions at Council should be looked at.


Councillor Goldspink said that she struggled with the recommendation to change ‘Chairman’ to ‘Chair’ as she preferred the term ‘Chairperson’. She thought the public participation rules at Overview and Scrutiny Committee was a good idea.


Councillor Symonds likewise did not agree with the change in terminology for the Chairman.


Councillor Curtis asked how the membership of the review groups was chosen.


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services said that the review groups looked at the terminology across other authorities in Hertfordshire and Chair was the most common term utilised. It would be for Council to decide whether to agree to the change or not. He said that the review groups would continue to meet as and when required so the 15 minute time limit for Members Questions could be looked at. He referred to the Standards Committee and said that Town and Parish councillors would be able to apply to sit on the committee and confirmed that they would be non-voting members. He responded to Councillor Curtis’ question about the membership of the groups, he said that the Member Group was not an official committee of the Council so did not need to be politically balanced and said that Group Leaders were invited to put forward Members.


Councillor Redfern said she defended the new title of Chair.


Councillor Williamson said there were a variety of views on the terminology and so it was recommended to Council for discussion. He said that Chairman was an established term and was still a neutral term and did not need to cause offence.


Councillor Haysey agreed that the term Chairman was a term of respect and was not gender specific.


Councillor Williamson proposed a recommendation to stay with the term Chairman. Councillor Curtis seconded the recommendation.


The motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded was put to the meeting and upon a vote being taken, was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED – that (A) the term Chairman continue to be used;


Having approved the recommendation to keep the term Chairman, the remaining changes to the Constitution identified in the report as proposed by Councillor Williamson and seconded by Councillor Deering, was put to the meeting and upon a vote being taken, was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED – that (B) the updates and consequential amendments to the Constitution identified in the attached appendices to the report, except paragraph 2.8, be approved.


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