To consider the Scheme of Delegations (as amended) for the discharge of functions for the year 2022/23 as set out in Part 3 of the Constitution, before ratification by Full Council. Report by the Senior Solicitor and Monitoring Officer (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Senior Solicitor and Monitoring Officer regarding the Constitution Update.
Councillor Henderson declared an interest as a member of the Licensing Committee as the Licensing functions were covered within the proposed changes.
The Senior Solicitor and Monitoring Officer advised:
· the proposed changes included:
· Correcting some typographical errors
· Reconciling of inconsistencies, eg removing “Ilfracombe” from Harbour Board to keep consistent with other references in the Constitution
· Moving existing delegated powers around to reflect changes to Heads of Services and team structures
· Actioning the recommendation from the Licensing and Community Safety Committee to fix fares/charges for hackney carriages rather than this needing to go to Strategy and Resources Committee.
· Updating the Contract Procedure Rules in Part 4 of the Constitution to reflect audit recommendations and also increasing of threshold for tender requirements from £40,000 to £75,000. This was comparable to other Local Authority arrangements.
· Notable changes proposed to the Scheme of Officer Delegations included:
· Ability to reduce or waive pitch fees at the Pannier Market (but not to increase fees).
· The increase of the limit from £500 to £1000 for compensation payments.
· Changes to the delegations for the Head of Place, Property and Regeneration which would increase the limit on smaller scale property transactions from the current £5,000 to £250,000. This proposed increase had been discussed with members of Strategy and Resources and they had found it acceptable. Other Local Authorities (although differing structures) had some comparable limits. It was considered that £250,000 was a reasonable amount for a smaller scale property transaction.
In response to questions from the Committee, the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive advised that:
· The increase from £5,000 to £250,000 for the limit on property transactions was to enable the officers to act quickly when needed to be able to purchase during the current market where speed was now increasingly important to enable such transactions to be made. It was felt that figure could cover the costs of purchasing cheaper properties which could be renovated. Due to the prices of such properties they currently did not remain available on the market for long, some now being sold within hours of being put on the market.
· There was no option to facilitate a mix of both Officer and Member involvement in such decisions within the current Committee structure. The involvement, or final approval by Strategy and Resources, followed by Full Council, would slow the process considerably, and make such purchases likely to be difficult. Delegated powers would enable the Authority to act quickly. Powers could only be delegated to Officers, not Members under the current committee arrangement.
· Any such acquisitions would need to fit the portfolio, eg for temporary accommodation or housing use. If so, the financial offer for a property could be made immediately under such delegated powers, which, at present could not be done.
· Bids could not be made on properties, subject to final approval from a Committee, as this would slow the process and place the Authority at a disadvantage when trying to acquire properties.
· Controls would be in place such as the current budgetary framework and appropriate budgets for purchases.
RECOMMENDED that the proposed amendments to Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the Constitution, including the Scheme of Delegations for the discharge of the functions for the year 2022/23, as per the report of the Senior Solicitor and Monitoring Officer, be approved by Full Council.