Agenda and minutes

Constitution and Members' Development Committee - Wednesday 16th August, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Mandela Room

Contact: Joanne McNally 

No. Item


Welcome and Evacuation Procedure


The Chair welcomed all those present and explained the fire evacuation procedure.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Constitution and Member Development Committee - 20 February 2023 pdf icon PDF 136 KB


The Minutes of the Constitution and Members’ Development Committee meeting of the 20 February 2023 were submitted and approved as a true record.


Minutes - Constitution and Members' Development Committee - 13 April 2023 pdf icon PDF 119 KB


The Minutes of the Constitution and Members’ Development Committee meeting of 13 April 2023 were submitted and approved as a true record.


Refresh of the Council's Constitution pdf icon PDF 329 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair invited the Monitoring Officer to introduce the report. As part of those introductions Members were advised the refresh of the Constitution was intended to make both its format and content more understandable. There was a recognition the Constitution was a working document that underpinned good governance. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities identified having a robust constitution was a feature of good governance.


Work to refresh the Constitution was started under the previous administration but paused until after the local elections of May 2023. A representative from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), who was in attendance at the meeting, had undertaken most of the work.


Members were told the Council’s Finance and Contract Procedure Rules had been recently considered by the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee. These had been broadly supported albeit with minor amendments. There was also a desire to involve all Members in the refresh of the Constitution prior to it being considered at full Council.


The Chair stated the Constitution was a live document which could be changed if necessary. The representative from CIPFA was invited to summarise the changes that had been made to the Constitution.


One of the main drivers for the refresh was accessibility. There were elements of the existing document that were not fit for purpose, some of which were written in legalese. The general structure of the document was analysed and changed to suit a question-and-answer format. Where possible technical language had been changed to make it more accessible.


Any statutory references that were footnotes were changed to be hyperlinks. This was intended to improve the flow for the reader. The new Constitution also included greater detail around statutory role profiles, such as the s.151 officer. As part of the document’s restructure the Council Procedure Rules were now contained in the Council section of the document, meaning relevant content now sat in the same place.


Descriptions of Council owned companies was made clearer and the threshold for Key Decisions was increased from £150,000 to £200,000. The Chief Executive had suggested this threshold increase to £250,000 as Executive would not have to consider decisions that were sometimes operational in nature. Increasing the threshold to £250,000 would also bring Middlesbrough in line with other Teesside authorities. In the CIPFA representative’s opinion increasing the Key Decision threshold to £250,000 would be appropriate for a Council the size of Middlesbrough.


A Member commented the current threshold had been in place for too long which sometimes led to delays in decision making.


A discussion took place about the benefits of increasing the Key Decision threshold. A motion was put, and agreed, suggesting the Key Decision threshold be increased from its current proposal of £200,000 to £250,000.


The CIPFA representative continued with her presentation advising Members an extensive list of definitions had been created to explain any technical terms and that the policy framework list had been updated. The Financial and Contract Procedure Rules were now contained in the main  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.