Venue: Conference Room A Cumbria House, Botchergate Carlisle
Contact: Jackie Currie Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
There were no apologies for absence.
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.
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).
There were no disclosures of interest made on this occasion.
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.
RESOLVED, that the press and public be not excluded from any items on the agenda today.
To consider a report from the Chair of Scrutiny Management Board (copy enclosed)
The Chair of Scrutiny Management Board presented a report which set out Scrutiny Management Board’s (SMB) reasons to refer the decision on the potential claim for judicial review against the decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Reorganisation back to Cabinet.
On Monday 11 October 2021, SMB held a meeting to consider the call-in of Cabinet’s decision to proceed with a potential claim of judicial review against the Secretary of State’s decision in respect of Local Government Reorganisation taken on 23 September 2021.
In the original letter there had been six grounds for the call in, however, following a clarification meeting these were reduced to three grounds:-
• Grounds 1,3 and 5 had been amalgamated
• Grounds 2 and 4 had 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.
After full consideration of the cases put by the Call-in Members and the Lead Member for Cabinet, SMB were satisfied that the decision met all the grounds except on costs and resolved to refer the decision back to Cabinet. The Board specifically resolved:
• that Scrutiny Management Board was concerned about the potential of spiralling costs.
The Chair of SMB ended by saying he hoped that in reconsidering their decision Cabinet would take these issues into consideration.
The Leader thanked the Chair for presenting the report, and he asked that his thanks be given to all the members at the call in meeting for the way the meeting was conducted and chaired. It was a good example of how scrutiny meetings should be run.
Response to the Referral back from Scrutiny re Cabinet Decision on the potential claim for Judicial Review against the decision of the Secretary of State in respect of Local Government Review in Cumbria PDF 233 KB
To consider a report from the Chief Legal Officer (copy enclosed)
The Leader presented a report which provided a response to the recommendations from Scrutiny Management Board (SMB) following the call in of the Cabinet decision on the 23 September 2021 on the grounds of the transparency of the process, the cost and also whether the decision went against what had been agreed in Full Council.
The original reasons for the Call In were discussed and the SMB recommendations reflected that wider discussion.
Following a discussion at SMB it was resolved that this matter be referred back to Cabinet on the grounds of cost, and that SMB was concerned about the potential of spiralling costs.
The original Cabinet paper provided an estimate of the costs of bringing a claim for judicial review including the risk of being required to pay the legal costs of Government if the claim was unsuccessful at £80,000. The costs would be met from the revenue contingency budget. The contingency budget was an annual budget included in the Medium Term Financial Plan to deal with one off in-year expenses when they arose. The budget was £1.5m. £0.215m had been committed to date with eligible spend of £1.285m remaining.
It was difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the costs at such an early stage of the claim especially as the Secretary of State failed to provide the information that the Council had requested when it responded to the PAPL. The estimate was based on discussions with Counsel about his likely costs. I was assumed that the costs for the government would be at a similar level. The actual costs would depend on whether there was a separate oral permission hearing, the length of the substantive hearing and the issues raised by the Secretary of State in his response to the claim. There was, in addition, a risk that unforeseen costs would be incurred. For example the Council had instructed solicitors to support us in issuing the proceedings if Cabinet confirmed the decision to proceed with the claim.
However as discussed above the eligible spend remaining in the contingency budget is over £1.2m so even if the costs increased significantly, such as by 50% to a total of £120,000 this could be met from this budget.
SMB were particularly concerned about the risk of costs spiralling as a result of the matter going to appeal.
The report set out the stages at which the Council and the government could apply for permission to appeal. The Leader explained that a decision to appeal would be a further decision of Cabinet.
It was difficult to quantify the level of costs of a matter going to appeal and a detailed estimate would need to be provided at the time. However the costs were likely to be significantly lower than the costs of the original claim because usually no new evidence was allowed at this stage and the hearing was likely to be shorter.
If the matter was appealed (by either party) and the Council was unsuccessful at the appeal hearing there ... view the full minutes text for item 145.