Agenda item

Amendments to the Constitution


The report presented by the Leader had set out the background and discussions of the recent review of the Constitution by the Constitution Working Group and the General Services Committee. The report asked for Council to agree those amendments which both the Constitution Working Group and General Services Committee had identified as those requiring progression.


Councillor Worrall stated the work undertaken by the Constitution Working Group had been interesting and had provided a platform to undertake a deep dive into the document and urged all members to read the constitution as this detailed key decision processes. That one meeting had been held with all members agreeing to the recommendations and welcomed the removal of the portfolio holder reports and moving them to scrutiny committees as would ensure portfolio holders were fully accountable to their areas of delivery. She also welcomed the extension of the meeting to three hours. The next steps would be to look closely at scrutiny and decide on the committee structure, this would need to be detailed and to look at other structures by visiting other councils. This had to be the right structure for our administration and for those sitting on committees. Councillor Worrell concluded that access to the LGA Peer Review was required as this was fundamental to the working of the Constitution Working Group and requested to see a copy before the next meeting.


Councillor Redsell echoed Councillor Worrall’s comments that this had been a very interesting cross party working group and would remain a working in progress document to continue to address any outdated items.


Councillor J Kent agreed to what had been said this evening and having been part of a lot of corporate peer reviews and peer challenges and seen scrutiny operated in several other authorities but had never found an authority that had cracked scrutiny and had struggled to get it right. He encouraged all to be open minded when looking what a scrutiny system would look like for Thurrock and not something to be rushed into, the needs of Thurrock needed to be considered. 


Councillor Allen reiterated that every member should stay at their committee until all items of business had been concluded.


Councillor Spillman welcomed and was excited about the proposed changes as this would give backbenchers more of an opportunity to engage.


Councillor Coxshall thanked the Mayor for instigating this review and was proud that this review had now started by listening to overview and scrutiny and Council. That transparency was vital to ensure the best decision making was being carried out in everything the council was undertaking. It was also important that the relevant reports and information were available on time to ensure engagement from all 49 members.


Councillor Watson agreed to all the recommendations and stated the next step would be to undertake a review of scrutiny and to report back to Council with those suggestions and recommendations so that further discussions could take place.


Councillor Gledhill thanked all members for their comments and echoed Councillor Worrall’s comment that all members should read the constitution and agreed with Councillor J Kent’s comment that he had visited other authorities and not found an authority that had got it right. The proposed changes would allow more time for member engagement and disagreed with Councillor’s Allen comment and felt that instead meetings should run to time and be undertaken in an organised manner. Councillor Gledhill then moved the recommendations as written.




1.       Agree or note (where the amendment is a consequential amendment) the amendments supported by the Constitution Working Group listed at numbers 1 to 17 in Appendix 1, namely to:


Procedure Rules:


a) Remove Portfolio Holder reports from Full Council and give Overview and Scrutiny Committees the role of receiving these reports.


b) Allow Portfolio Holders/relevant committee Chair to acknowledge a petition upon presentation at Council.


c) Extend the time for Member Questions at Full Council to 45 minutes.


d) Clarify rules so that the Mayor or Chair of committee agrees to call extraordinary meetings in consultation with relevant officers.


e) Record all votes at Full Council in order that numbers for and against can be recorded.


f) Extend Full Council guillotine by 30 minutes.


g) Extend the time for speeches on Motions by 1 minute.


h) Extend the time allowed for someone to present a petition to 3 minutes.


i) Establish an annual dedicated ‘Opening of the Municipal Year’ debate at June’s Full Council meeting with the debate for the 2022/23 year being scheduled for the meeting in July 2022.


j) Clarify rules so that the Mayor or Chair of Committee agrees to cancel a meeting in consultation with relevant officers.


k) Formalise the process whereby, upon formal and timely notice, a different Member to the one who submitted a motion to Full Council can propose it at the meeting.


l)  Remove the annual report from Youth Cabinet to Full Council as it is covered annually at Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.




m) Remove Licensing Committee powers relating to alcohol under Section 13 Criminal Justice Act 2001. (This is a consequential amendment)


n) Amend appointment of Vice Chair and Chair of Licensing Sub-Committees so that they can be appointed at the meeting.


o) Remove Licensing Committee powers relating to Part 1 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and transfer them to the General Services Committee.




p) Refresh Contract Procedure Rules (This is a consequential amendment)


Overview and Scrutiny:


q) Remove Councillor Calls for Action as a standing item on O&S agendas


2.       Note that five suggested amendments, set out at numbers 18 to 22 in Appendix 1, will be brought to Full Council at a later date for decision if required.


3.        Agree the actions to be taken in relation to suggestions 23 to 26 and 28 to 32 of Appendix 1.


Following General Services Committee on 14 June 2022:


4.        Note that Suggestion 27, Security of Member Emails, will return to CWG for consideration following clarification made by the General Services Committee.


5.       The terms ‘he/she’ be replaced with the relevant named post, in the following rules, in order to clarify decision making:


- Chapter 2, Part 2 – Council Procedure Rules – 3.2

- Chapter 4, Part 3 – Scrutiny Procedure Rules – 1.3

- Chapter 5, Part 2 – Committee Procedure Rules – 2.2


Supporting documents: