Report of the County Solicitor; Chief Officer for Legal, Human Resources and Communications on proposals for amending the Members Allowances Scheme in relation to certain Local Government Association (LGA) commitments, attached.
Councillors Biederman, Connett, Hart, Hughes and Wright declared personal interests in this matter by virtue of being a member of the Fire Services Management Committee, the national lead LGA member for the Liberal Democrats, by virtue of being a member of the LGA Executive, the Chair of PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London) Joint Committee and a member of an LGA Policy Board respectively.
The Committee considered the Report of the County Solicitor; Chief Officer for Legal, Human Resources and Communications on proposals for amending the Members Allowances Scheme in relation to certain Local Government Association (LGA) commitments.
The Report highlighted the value that the Council placed on training and development and the benefits brought and the various mechanisms by which this happened.
The Committee noted that the LGA political groups also made a number of appointments to other boards and forums of their own volition and whilst it was important that Devon was represented at some of these, is was felt appropriate to apply some consistency in the application of approval of travel expenses to such events.
The Report highlighted what was permitted under the current allowances scheme in terms of both the basic allowance and the approved duties under schedule 1 of the scheme. Any variation required the approval of the budget holder, the Head of Democratic Services, in liaison with the Leader of the Council as appropriate (in accordance with the framework outlined in Procedures Minute 33 (5/6/18)). It was clear that the scheme did not currently permit travel expenses for LGA Policy Board appointments.
The Report outlined the various (and different) mechanisms by each of the political groups for making the appointments and the Appendix to the Report showed the current Policy Boards, other LGA Structures and Workforce Employer Bodies. The Local Government Association (LGA) Allowances Scheme highlighted that “Travel and subsistence costs for all other meetings should be met by the member’s home authority.”
One of the issues was that the Council could not be clear how many Members were appointed to the Boards, because they were either appointed at a District level and / or that political groups approached Members direct.
Members considered three options, the first being to amend the allowances scheme to include such policy boards as an ‘approved duty’, the second to adopt a similar approach to that of attendance at training events where Members sought approval before accepting the appointment and option 3 where Members accept the appointment to the Board of their own volition, but were then responsible for all travel costs, to be met from their basic allowance or other personal income.
It was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor Connett, and
(a) that Option 2 (to adopt a similar approach to that of attendance at training events where Members seek approval before they accept the appointment as to whether the Council will pay for the travel expenses for the meetings of the Board. This would be via approval of the budget holder, the Head of Democratic Services, in liaison with the Leader of the Council. Members would be expected to make a case, outline the expected costs and frequency and also demonstrate the benefits to Devon County Council), be adopted, and
(b) that the position be reviewed in 12 months time.