To receive an update on amendments made to the Constitution since approval by the Shadow Authority and approve proposed amendments as detailed within the report.
The report before Council detailed amendments made to the Constitution under delegated authority by the Monitoring Officer since the Constitutions adoption. It contained further proposals where Council’s agreement was required.
Amendments made by the Monitoring Officer under delegated authority were detailed in the report and included addition of the Director of Public Health to the Areas of Responsibility section of the Scheme of Delegation, and amendments to the Contract Procedure Rules.
There had been some legislative changes since the Constitution’s adoption, and these were reflected in the current version. This included the cessation of the Interim Arrangements from 10th May 2021 included in the original version of the Constitution.
Further amendments being proposed in the report for Council’s agreement fell into two categories: -
Joint Arrangement Agreements
Agreements had been inherited or developed which set out shared arrangements which required delegations under s.101 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
(i) LGSS Partnership
Northamptonshire County Council entered into a revised agreement shortly before Vesting Day which abolished the previous Joint Committee and put in place partnership arrangements. The agreement revised the delegations required by partner authorities to enable them to act on the councils’ behalf.
These partnerships required constitutional changes to enable delegations to be in place. These delegations were not recorded in the Northamptonshire County Council Constitution at the time the North Northamptonshire Council Constitution was drafted and were therefore not incorporated. Delegations needed to be included within this council’s Constitution to give effect to this agreement.
(ii) West Northamptonshire Council
The Council had agreed the Inter Authority Agreements through the Shadow Executive in March 2021, however some of the arrangements for the delivery of services, in particular those relating to highways, required delegation to be included within the Constitution; these had been agreed by the Executive but required non-Executive approval.
Delegated authority was therefore being requested by the Monitoring Officer to draft delegations to senior officers to give effect to the existing agreements with LGSS and West Northamptonshire Council as necessary and ensure that appropriate authority allowed officers to act in an effective way.
Delegated Powers to the Monitoring Officer
(i) Sealing of Contracts
The Constitution included a power to enable the Monitoring Officer to seal contracts more than £1 million but land deeds required sealing and there was no separate specific power for the Monitoring Officer to attest deeds for land and property.
The proposed delegation was – “To attest the seal of the Council (and to authorise any other Solicitor of the Council to attest the seal) and hold a book kept for the purpose that contains a consecutively numbered entry of every sealing initialled by the person who has attested the seal”.
(ii) Inquorate Councils
Council noted that parish councils who have insufficient Members were unable to meet. The Council had a power to appoint Members to a parish council on a temporary basis in order that those councils could conduct lawful quorate meetings. The power was contained within s.91 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
It was proposed that this power be granted to the Monitoring Officer so that a decision to appoint Members could be made as necessary, both prior to annual meetings of parish councils and at other times of the year should in quoracy arise - “Under s.92 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) to appoint by Order persons to fill vacancies in the office of parish or community councillor”.
The recommendations contained in the report were duly MOVED by Councillor Harriet Pentland and SECONDED by Councillor Mike Tebbutt.
RESOLVED that: -
(i) The proposed changes to the Constitution set out in paragraph 5 of the report be approved; and
(ii) Delegated authority be granted to the Monitoring Officer to amend the Constitution to give effect to the agreements with LGSS (Cambridgeshire, Bedford, Milton Keynes) and West Northamptonshire Council.