Skip to content

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Sheffield, S1 2HH. View directions

Contact: Jay Bell, Committee Secretary  Email: jay.bell@sheffield.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.1

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Mohammed Mahroof.

 

 

2.

Exclusion of Public and Press

To identify items where resolutions may be moved to exclude the press and public.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2.1

No items were identified where resolutions may be moved to exclude the press and public.

 

 

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Members to declare any interests they have in the business to be considered at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

3.1

There were no declarations of interest made at the meeting.

 

 

4.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To approve the minutes of the meetings of the Committees held on 30November 2021, 7 December 2021 and the 8 December 2021. Minutes to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1

The minutes of the meetings held on 30 November, 7 & 8 December were agreed as an accurate record.

 

 

5.

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1

The Committee received 6 questions from a member of the public, which were submitted prior to the meeting.

 

 

Ruth Hubbard, It’s Our City

 

 

1.    The work developing design principles for a new committee system took place over four months including some intensive work with stakeholders and members of the public - who gave their time willingly to contribute.  It is not clear how the committee system structure report relates to, aligns with, or puts the principles (and their implicit outcomes) into practice.  In some cases what is being proposed seems to be in active tension with, or in opposition to, the principles. What was the point of all that work and citizen/stakeholder input?  I recognise that the report covers a limited number of core issues at this stage but  isn't this part of the governance problem - stated council commitments with little real meaning, and no actual demonstrable impact or influence via engagement and consultation

 

In response to question 1, The Chair, Councillor Julie Grocutt stated the Governance Committee agreed in public to use the design principles both when considering the various options and when reviewing later on how well the new system is working. The way that those principles changed significantly during development clearly showed the impact of citizen and stakeholder input. It was the Chair’s expectation that evidence from all three sessions of the Inquiry and the principles should be in the forefront of members’ minds when giving consideration to the options presented at the meeting.

 

2.    Eight main committees are proposed (plus a significant finance sub-committee).  What makes Sheffield an exception and ‘extreme outlier’ on this, especially in the face of evidence received and statutory guidance.  And, from the Wirral, where a very recent External Assurance Review by the government’s DLUHC is requiring a reduction in their number of main committees (a reduction not from 8, but 7 committees).  Being an extreme outlier with 8 main committees would also be an explicit and conscious decision to very likely increase both bureaucracy and resource load (and that would also go against the design principles).  How is this justifiable in the current circumstances, and what do you think voters will think if this is the decision

 

In response to question 2, The Chair explained that section four of the report dealt with this issue. Members heard through the inquiry process that there are risks to having too many committees, however we also heard that it is crucial to align committees to the way the business works. This is to avoid things like senior officers losing capacity due to needing to each attend and prepare for multiple committees every month, and to make sure financial accountability is crystal clear. The report proposes that the scale and complexity of this Council’s business, as the first ever Core City to move to a committee system, means that there are actually benefits overall in terms of timeliness and reducing bureaucracy to aligning the committees to functional areas of the council and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Committee System Structure pdf icon PDF 515 KB

Papers to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1

The Committee received a report of the Director of Legal and Governance which made recommendations to key aspects of Sheffield City Council’s future governance arrangements under a committee system.

 

6.2

The Assistant Director (Governance), Alexander Polak, explained the report had taken into consideration the opinions of each witness from the enquiry process, which took place in November and December of 2021.

 

6.3

The Assistant Director (Governance) stated that Full Council would be the final decision-maker on the recommendations. The Governance Committee had been asked to agree a skeleton model from the recommendations, which would give the Monitoring Officer enough certainty to begin to redraft the detail of the Council’s constitution.

 

6.4

The Committee were asked to keep the design principles in mind as they debated on the report’s recommendations, as well as everything they had heard through the inquiry process.

 

 

a)    Seven themed Policy Committees which will be closely aligned to the functions of the Council;

 

6.5

The Assistant Director (Governance) mentioned the Committee had previously heard from a range of Councils, through the enquiry process, which expressed their thoughts on the total number of themed policy committees and how they were arranged in accordance with their council’s functions.

 

6.6

The recommendation proposed that themed committees would be aligned with the council’s functions rather than by political or corporate plan priorities. This meant that if any priorities were to change, the overall functions should remain stable and clearly link into individual budgets.

 

6.7

Members of the Committee discussed recommendation 1a) and the following comments were made: -

 

6.8

A member of the Committee stated their political party supported this recommendation although believed it would need reviewing 6 months after implementation. Another member of the Committee added that it was important to mention the new system would not be set in stone and it is planned for the new system to go under a review process, therefore the system could undertake changes in the future. It was added that Council should review the system annually.

 

6.9

The Committee agreed recommendation 1a) as is.

 

 

b)    A Strategy & Resources Policy Committee including all Policy Committee Chairs within its membership, with overarching responsibility for the policy and budgetary framework, and a standing Finance Sub-Committee, both Chaired by the Leader of the Council;

 

6.10

The Assistant Director (Governance) mentioned there was a common message that came from the enquiry process. This was that there needed to be a place for cross-cutting issues and for the budget as a whole to be discussed and priorities weighed.

 

6.11

The Committee were informed that the Chairs of all policy committees would form part of the membership on the Strategy & Resources Policy Committee. The Committee would need to be politically proportionate therefore the membership would be Chairs of committees plus other members as necessary to form a proportionate membership.

 

6.12

This recommendation also stated that a standing Finance Sub-Committee be agreed and that this along with the Strategic & Resources Policy Committee both be chaired by the Leader of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Engagement Update pdf icon PDF 366 KB

Papers to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1

The Committee Received a report of the director of Legal and Governance. The purpose of the report was to update the Committee on the engagement activity that had been undertaken as part of the Transition to the Committee System Programme.

 

7.2

The Head of Policy and Partnerships, Laurie Brennan informed the Committee that various engagement opportunities had taken place, including frequent in-person and virtual conversations with citizens so that public could comment and develop the Committee System. It was mentioned that the Council had received great amounts of crucial feedback from citizens and stakeholders throughout this process, all of which had been factored into the report at item 7 of the agenda.

 

7.3

Paragraph 6 of the report highlighted key messages received throughout the process, which citizens and stakeholders believed needed to be considered as the Council transitioned to a committee system.

 

7.4

Sarah Allan from Involve attended the meeting virtually to update the Committee.

 

7.5

Sarah Allan mentioned that Involve had carried out two round table conversations, one with academics and stakeholders and the other with individuals representing community organisations. Both had similar messages. Those consulted were surprised on the whole that the Council had decided to run a one-off piece of engagement in the proposed manner rather than continuously consulting on how to improve engagement throughout the new system and using information already received through various previous processes.

 

7.6

During the round table exercise, the public also talked about how they would like to see long term engagement implemented in the long term vision for the Council. The ‘health champion’ work was highlighted as an example of current good practice.

 

7.7

It was mentioned that wider issues were raised during the process which was outside Involve’s remit. This were comments dealing with issues such as lack of trust in the Council.

 

7.8

The Head of Policy and Partnerships stated that the Council had now been provided with a lot of good content which gives the Council, with the help of Involve, a perspective on how people wanted to engage.

 

7.9

A Member of the Committee suggested a simplified document be produced on ‘how the council works’ so that more citizens are informed and understand before they engage, this could also lead to more engagement if more citizens understood what the Council does. Another Member of the Committee explained that information is out there on the WEA website therefore information could be adapted toward the committee system from there.

 

7.10

RESOLVED: that the Committee (1) Acknowledges the findings of the public engagement to date and thanks citizens, stakeholders and independent experts for the involvement and contributions to date.

(2)  Acknowledges the findings of the stakeholder roundtable events managed by Involve;

(3)  Agree that public engagement for the Transition to Committee Programme should proceed as outlined in this report to ensure meaningful findings that support the launch of the new committee system, making best use of the available budget, and aiming to build trust with Sheffielders; and

(4)  Endorses  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 22 February 2022 at 10.00 a.m.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1

It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on 22 February 2022.