Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. View directions
Contact: Huma Younis or Rianna Hanford, Room 122, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames
Apologies were received from Nikki Barton, Zully Grant-Duff, Victoria Young and Natalie Bramhall.
Rachael I Lake attended as a substitute for Victoria Young and Michael Sydney attended as a substitute for Natalie Bramhall.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests from Members in respect of any item to be considered at the meeting.
· In line with the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012, declarations may relate to the interest of the member, or the member’s spouse or civil partner, or a person with whom the member is living as husband or wife, or a person with whom the member is living as if they were civil partners and the member is aware they have the interest.
· Members need only disclose interests not currently listed on the Register of disclosable Pecuniary Interests.
· Members must notify the Monitoring Officer of any interests disclosed at the meeting so they may be added to the Register.
· Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.
No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests had been received.
Purpose of the report: Scrutiny of Services and Budgets
To scrutinise the agreement with Surrey Wildlife Trust for the management of the county council’s countryside estate, approved by the Cabinet on 22 March 2016.
David Hodge, Leader of the Council
Denise Le Gal, Cabinet Member for Business Services and Resident Experience
Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning
Ian Boast, Assistant Director for Environment
Peter Hopkins, Asset Strategy and Planning Manager
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways (EPEH) Chairman introduced the item and informed the Board that the item had been called in as some Members felt that Cabinet made a decision with the effect of bypassing scrutiny of detail. He added that the call-in was a constitutional meeting and would ensure that the proper process was followed.
2. The Chairman allowed for Members who had called–in the item to explain their reasons for call-in. Members expressed concerns around the amount of responsibility being given to Surrey Wildlife Trust, concerns around management of the countryside and the viability of the business plans. Call-in Members asked for the item to be withdrawn in order for specific concerns raised by the board to be addressed. The need to give the board the opportunity to adequately scrutinise the business plans was also raised as a concern. A Member of the Board stated that it was vital to allow for proper scrutiny of the countryside as this was one of the largest assets the County Council had.
3. The Leader of the Council responded to the points made, he expressed that he was an advocate of boards calling in items. He stated that it was not the role of Cabinet to decide what should be scrutinised but to focus on policy decisions. It was added that no board members were present at the Cabinet meeting when the decision on SWT was taken; if members had attended then they could have voiced their concerns. The leader felt that a call-in meeting on this decision should not have taken place based on the fact that Cabinet cannot decide what scrutiny boards should do. He further added that the board has the power to ask for items of concern to come to their meetings as and when they wish.
4. In response to points made by the Leader, the Chairman said that he was content with the original recommendation, which is the reason for him not being present at the Cabinet meeting. However the wording of the Cabinet decision suggested that the board would not be involved in the scrutiny of the business plans. The Chairman stated that he believed that the wording of the decision should be changed.
5. The Board were told that when Members were not satisfied with a decision they should always attend the Cabinet meeting where they would be given the opportunity to voice their concerns. The Leader stated that he did not believe that the wording of the decision should be changed as the Cabinet are not in a position to state when scrutiny should and should not be undertaken.
6. The Chairman informed witnesses that the decision was called in because of timing issues and ... view the full minutes text for item 3/16
DATE OF NEXT MEETING: 21 APRIL 2016
The next meeting of the Committee will be held at 10.30am on 21 April 2016.
The next meeting of the Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways Board will be held on 21 April 2016 at 10.30am.