Agenda and draft minutes

Call in of a Cabinet Decision, Scrutiny Management Board - Monday, 11th October, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Kendal

Contact: Lorraine Davis  Email: lorraine.davis@cumbria.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

27.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

To receive any apologies for absence.

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr P Dew and Dr S Haraldsen.

 

28.

MEMBERSHIP

To report any changes to the membership of the Board.

 

Minutes:

There were no changes of membership to report on this occasion.

 

 

29.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

Members are invited to disclose any disclosable pecuniary interest they have in any item on the agenda which comprises

 

1          Details of any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

 

2          Details of any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.  (This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

 

3          Details of any contract which is made between you (or a body in which you have a beneficial interest) and the authority

 

(a)     Under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and

 

(b)     Which has not been fully discharged.

 

4          Details of any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the authority. 

 

5          Details of any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the authority for a month or longer. 

 

6          Details of any tenancy where (to your knowledge)

 

(a)     The landlord is the authority; and

 

(b)     The tenant is a body in which you have a beneficial interest.

 

7          Details of any beneficial interest in securities of a body where

 

(a)     That body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the authority; and

 

(b)     Either –

 

(i)        The total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or

 

(ii)          If that share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

 

In addition, you must also disclose other non-pecuniary interests set out in the Code of Conduct where these have not already been registered.

 

Note

 

A “disclosable pecuniary interest” is an interest of a councillor or their partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom they are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom they are living as if they are civil partners).

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest made.

 

30.

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED,     that the press and public be excluded during any potential discussion of Appendix 3 of Agenda Item No 5(A) – the Cabinet Report on Potential Claim for Judicial review against the decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria, as this report contains exempt information in respect of which a legal claim to professional privilege could be maintained in proceedings.

 

 

31.

CALL-IN ITEMS

31a

Cabinet Report - Potential Claim for Judicial Review against decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria pdf icon PDF 20 KB

A copy of the Cabinet Report on the Potential Claim for Judicial Review against decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria is attached (copy enclosed)

 

Appendix 3 – Counsel’s Advice (To follow) Not for publication by virtue of paragraph 5 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 as this report contains information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Scrutiny Management Board received and noted the Cabinet Report from 23 September 2021 Potential Claim for Judicial Review against the decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation.

 

 

31b

Cabinet Minute Extract - Potential Claim for Judicial Review against decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria pdf icon PDF 300 KB

A copy of a Minute Extract from Cabinet on 23 September 2021, in relation to the Potential Claim for Judicial Review against decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria item is attached (copy enclosed)

 

Minutes:

The Minute Extract on the Potential Claim for Judicial Review against the Decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation was noted.

 

31c

Call in letter - Potential Claim for Judicial Review against decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria pdf icon PDF 347 KB

A copy of the call in letter is attached (copy enclosed)

 

Minutes:

The Chair of Scrutiny Management Board opened this item by informing members of changes to the grounds for call in, which had been amended following the recently held clarification meeting.

 

·        Grounds 1,3 and 5 had now been amalgamated

·        Grounds 2 and 4 and been amalgamated

·        Ground 6 remained as was originally stated

 

The grounds focussed on the transparency of the process, the cost and also whether the decision went against what had been agreed in Full Council.

 

The Chair said members would hear initial presentations from both parties, after which members could ask questions for clarification.  Following this, the meeting would then move into debate once the closing remarks from the Call-in Members and the Lead Cabinet member had been received.

 

The purpose of the meeting was for Scrutiny Management Board to consider the call-in of the decision to issue a claim for Judicial Review against the decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria, and to decide whether the decision should or should not be referred back to Cabinet.

 

The intention was to conduct the meeting fully in public. If any party intended to refer to any Part 2 information, which cannot be shared in public, the meeting would need to adjourn so those matters could be held without the press and public present.

 

The Lead Call in Member was then invited to make his presentation.  He began by reminding members that the previous 6 grounds for call in had now been amalgamated into 3 grounds, and he, and the other call in members took SMB through the justifications for these.

 

1)            Lack of Transparency and Openness, including the secrecy surrounding the decision, and the access to information and advice

 

The agenda item at Cabinet was held in Part II (private) with the press, public and members not in the cabinet excluded and no material explanation had been provided for the justification of the cabinet decision or what assessment had been done of costs, risks or chances of success. As such this was completely against the principles of transparency and openness.

 

The secrecy surrounding this decision was to a point that it was preventing the democratic process being the vehicle for free expression.  The call in members felt that this decision impacted the human rights of the people of Cumbria by preventing free expression through extreme secrecy on the part of the Cabinet.

 

The call in members also felt there was a serious shortfall in the information and legal advice that had been provided to both backbench councillors and the opposition group which made it difficult to understand the basis on which the cabinet decision was taken.

 

2)            The open ended nature of the potential costs involved and the resources and potential cost involved not being proportionate to the likelihood or lack of achieving any change

 

Cabinet Minutes from 23 September - Minute 140 gave no indication of the full scale of the potential costs and financial risks involved or how they would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31c

31d

Supplementary Information

None available at the time of despatch.

 

Minutes:

There was no supplementary information provided on this occasion.

 

 

32.

Call in flow chart pdf icon PDF 389 KB

Attached

Minutes:

Members noted the call in flow chart.