Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - The Guildhall, Marshall's Yard, Gainsborough, DN21 2NA

Contact: James Welbourn  Democratic and Civic Officer


No. Item


Public Participation Period

Up to 15 minutes are allowed for public participation. Participants are restricted to 3 minutes each.

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The following question was asked of the Committee by Mr Ian Forster:


Dear Chairman/Members of the Committee, I am concerned about what I consider to be a lack of transparency, democracy and probably more importantly the lack of respect for elected Councillors by the council Planning Department.


In a recent planning application (137092) submitted by my daughter the elected Ward Councillor (Councillor Tom Regis) submitted a written request for the application to be called in and dealt with by The Planning Committee. The request set out at length his reasons detailing relevant planning policies, in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution.


The entry on the West Lindsey District Council website showed this had been called in and also the Planning Officer requested an extension to the time for consideration/deliberation. This was taken (wrongly as it transpires) as the relevant parties agreeing to the Councillors wishes. It then came as something of a surprise to receive a refusal notice under delegated powers.


My understanding is that Councillor Regis was not consulted by the Planning Officer, to explain why the officers did not accept his reasoning or the policy references. In a subsequent email following the refusal of permission it was explained that the Chairman “had viewed the officer report and the representations related to this application”. It is unclear whether the Chairman had read or considered the reasons for the “call in” and I understand that the Chairman never discussed the matter with the Ward Councillor before making his decision that the application should be refused.


I am particularly concerned that the decision should be made without at least a discussion with the Ward Councillor. It beggars the question, in relation to the determination of planning applications, do we need a Planning Committee or in fact Elected Ward Councillors? Maybe the unelected Planning Officers could deal with all applications by delegated powers thus saving time and a considerable amount of money. I understand that a number of other elected councillors have had similar experiences during recent months.


I think it is a sad indictment of Democracy within West Lindsey District Council, particularly when the Government are pushing for more houses to be built when the persons who are elected and know the local issues and concerns best are not even consulted or kept informed.


My questions are as follows:-

1. Will the Committee carefully assess and reconsider the terms of the Constitution in so far as it relates to the opportunity for a Member to “call in” an application to be considered by the Planning Committee?

2. Will the Committee consider making it a requirement, that before agreeing to an officer decision, the Chairman should first discuss the matter fully with the WardCouncillor concerned? During such discussions, the reasons should be carefully explained, as to why the issues and planning policies specified are not sufficient in the particular case to justify the determination by the Committee.

3. In the interests of transparency, will the Committee also require that these  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 13 March 2018.

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The minutes of the meeting held on 13 March 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Members Declarations of Interest

Members may make any declarations of interest at this point but may also make them at any point during the meeting.

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There were no declarations of interest.


Matters Arising Schedule pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Matters Arising schedule setting out current position of previously agreed actions as at 9 April.

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The matters arising schedule was noted.


In relation to the Unaudited Statement of Accounts in June, this would take place from 1pm on 19 June, with a ten minute break before the start of the Governance and Audit Committee.


Councillor Giles McNeill had not yet been contacted by Councillor Mrs Rollings on the subject of the Leisure Contract; this had previously been raised at Full Council on 9 April 2018.


Attendance of Head of Paid Service - Planning Delegations

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The Head of Paid Service answered Members’ questions on planning delegations.  The points raised are highlighted below:


·         Councils can have their planning powers removed, and the Government was progressively tightening targets local planning authorities are required to meet.  Removal of the council’s planning powers would not be permanent; planning powers would be taken away by Government until the system failure had been addressed.  West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) were at risk at the end of 2016, but then was able to demonstrate nine months of continuous improvement;


Note: The Chairman read out an email on this topic from Councillor Lewis Strange.  This email had been circulated at Cllr Strange’s request to all Members of the Governance and Audit Committee.


·         Planning was an apolitical topic and therefore no favouritism would be offered to any individual of the Council;


·         The application paperwork does refer to relatives, and Members have the opportunity to fill this field in if an application coming to Planning was from a Member of their family;


·         Parish Councils were consultees in the planning process.  All comments from Parish Councils were taken into account, and would be reflected in the reports taken to Planning Committee;


·         In the last couple of years WLDC had done more training sessions that involved Parish Councils, with the aim of giving them a better degree of knowledge on planning matters.  They were made aware of every planning decision taken in their area;


·         One of the recommendations from the peer review of the Planning Service was closer working with Parish Councils; this had been done by providing more joint training sessions with parish councillors and West Lindsey District Council Members;


·         There were mechanisms whereby Parish Councils and affected neighbours can get planning applications referred to the Planning Committee, which had been referred to in the public participation item.




Draft Internal Audit Quarter 4 Progress Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

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Members considered a report giving an update of progress by the Audit partner against the 2017/18 annual programmes agreed by the Governance and Audit Committee in March 2017.


Following questions from Members, information additional to the report was provided:


·         Limited assurance was given on the finance system.  A replacement system is being considered; Civica have quoted £30,000 for the replacement module currently being used for testing;


·         It was useful to have two assurance ratings; one for the finance system, and a second for the process;


·         The bank reconciliation was being run on a daily basis and had a small number of minor variations.  This seemed to occur when the pennies were not put through.  This would be continually monitored through April; by 19 March there was a week’s worth of no variations.  The Head of Finance will scrutinise until the end of April and then rely on the daily reconciliation to identify any problems.




(1)  Note the report;


(2)  Highlight that commercial billing is an area of concern and should be completed by June;


(3)  Ask for a further report on commercial billing to be brought to the June meeting of Governance and Audit.



Review of Strategic Risks (April 2018) pdf icon PDF 141 KB

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Members considered a report on the review of strategic risks facing the Council as at April 2018.


In addition to the information in the report, the Executive Director of Resources advised Committee that when something unusual occurs, such as the virus that struck computer systems at Lincolnshire County Council, it is within the general mitigation of officers to take the necessary action. 


                        RESOLVED to note the report.


Member Champions pdf icon PDF 135 KB

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Members considered a report proposing a new role description for Member Champions.  This description was proposed to be added to the Constitution.  It had been recommended to the Governance and Audit Committee by Prosperous Communities Committee.


RESOLVED to recommend the addition of the role description attached at Appendix 1 of the report into the Constitution for the Civic year 2018/19.


Note: Councillor David Bond left after the conclusion of this item.


Periodic review of the Annual Governance Statement Action Plan 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

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Members considered a report reviewing progress of the Annual Governance Statement 2016/17 action plan.


Since the previous report came in November 2017, 3 further actions (relating to resilience and capacity, political governance, and development management) had been closed off.  There was no slippage envisaged; there were, however, further discussions around the value for money priority.  Since the New Year, a Performance Officer had been appointed; they would take overall responsibility for this task, in particular for benchmarking and performance.




Members were assured that the current position of the Annual Governance Statement Action Plan for 2016/17 will result in the completion of all relevant actions by July 2018.




Constitution Annual Review pdf icon PDF 227 KB

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Members considered a report on the annual review of the Constitution.  The Committee were also asked to approve the amendments made to the Financial and Contract Procedure Rules, which would subsequently be noted by Council as part of the Annual Review.  Article 14 stipulates how such a review should be conducted and this is set out at Section 1.2 of the report.


Arising from the feedback received a number of additions/ amendments are proposed to come into immediate effect, following Annual Council.  These are as set out in the table in Section 2.  Those highlighted green support the Council’s commercial agenda whilst those highlighted red are deemed to be greater than “house-keeping” in nature.


Building on the successful introduction of a new Code of Conduct in May 2017, particular focus has also been given this year to ensuring the Operation of Conventions included within Section III of the Constitution is reflective of how Members and Officers engage across the Council.


Two workshops, open to Senior Officers and All Members of the Council were held in January 2018, and allowed attendees to take a focussed look at this Section (III) of the Constitution.


It should be noted the most frequently raised point by attendees at the work shop was that the contents of the Protocol were not widely known of and therefore work had been undertaken to raise its profile.


The Governance and Audit Committee were delegated to make any changes to the Financial and Contract Procedure Rules between Annual Councils.  A set of revised rules were attached at Appendices 3a and 3b.  Appendix 3 detailed the table of amendments which had been made to each document along with the rationale for each and Members’ attention was particularly drawn to those amendments which had been made to reflect the Council’s commercial agenda, highlighted in green.


With regard to the Financial Procedure rules, the delegation at 7.2.9 of the Executive Director of Resources in forming a partnership is for a maximum contribution by the Council of £25k, and therefore for clarification purposes it was suggested that Financial Procedure Rule 7.2.9 be further amended to read as follows:


7.2.9    The Executive Director of Resources is authorised to form a partnership arrangement with a maximum value contribution by the Council of £25k for works/services.


Following this introduction, Members commented on the report, and these comments are highlighted below:


·         The Monitoring Officer had the power to appoint Members of Parish Councils in instances where they were inquorate.  In future, this would be reported to Governance and Audit Committee;


·         Some housekeeping amendments were required at pages 91 and 252 of the bookmarked agenda;


·         The British Trust for Volunteers was now known as the Trust for Conservation Volunteers.




(a)  That Members note the outcome of the annual review;


(b)  That the amendments detailed at Section 2 of the report be recommended to Council for immediate adoption and implementation;


(c)  The revised Member Officer Protocol (formally known as the Operation of Conventions) (Part III – Codes and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.


Workplan pdf icon PDF 56 KB

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The workplan was noted.