Issue - meetings

Resource and Capacity Review of the Legal and Democratic functions of the Councils

Meeting: 23/07/2024 - Council (Item 12.)

12. Legal and Democratic Services: Resourcing and Structure Proposals pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Additional documents:


Meeting: 16/05/2024 - Executive (Item 11)

11 Legal and Democratic Services: Resourcing and Structure Proposals pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Decision:

Executive approved:

1.            The Joint Head of Paid Service’s proposal to create a role of Joint Executive Head / Assistant Director - Legal as set out in para 15.1 of the report submitted to the Executive;

2.            The Joint Head of Paid Service’s proposal to create a role of Joint Executive Head / Assistant Director - Democracy & Governance as set out in para 15.1 of the report;

3.            The Joint Head of Paid Service’s proposal to create a Joint Executive Advisory and Support team as set out in para 6.4 of the report to include two new posts of Joint Executive Advisory and Support Manager and Joint Executive Advisor.   The Joint Executive Advisory and Support Manager would provide advisory support as well as management of the existing Joint Executive support team;

4.            The Head of Paid Service’s proposal to create a new post of Joint Head of Governance as set out in para 15.2 of the report;

5.            The Head of Paid Service’s proposal to amend the existing three Waverley Borough Council posts of Senior Governance Officer, Senior Corporate Governance Lawyer and Monitoring Officer assistant to be joint roles operating across Waverley and Guildford Councils;

6.            To delegate authority to the Monitoring Officer to amend the current inter-authority agreement between Guildford Borough Council and Waverley Borough Council to include the new joint roles as set out in the report.

7.            An additional one-off cost of £90,605 to Guildford Borough Council which is a 50% contribution towards the costs of two Interim Governance Officers for 6 months;

Executive noted:

8.            That the implications of these proposals had been considered in the context of restructures already concluded in GBC and WBC Legal Services and work about to commence in Waverley Democratic Services.

Executive approved and recommended to Full Council meeting on 17 June 2024:

9.            To approve the increase to the Legal & Democratic Services salary budget for 2024/25 of £357,318 as set out in para 10.6 of the report;

10.       To approve the making of all necessary arrangements for the discharge of functions through joint arrangements between Waverley Borough Council and Guildford Borough Council, by officers of Waverley Borough Council, as set out in this report, and for such arrangements to be included in the inter-authority agreement in accordance with s113 Local Government Act 1972.

Reasons:

1.        To respond to the Head of Paid Services’ recent changes to his staff structure at Chief Officer level, effective 1 March 2024, which made the previous Joint Executive Head of Legal & Democratic Services the Joint Strategic Director of Legal & Democratic Services and the previous Joint Executive Head of Finance, the Joint Strategic Director of Finance.  Whilst this had strengthened the Corporate Management Board and ensured that the governance functions were represented at the most senior level by the three statutory officers, it had also created a gap at the Executive Head of Service / Assistant Director level for each of these disciplines, which could not be sustained.

2.        To respond to the concerns raised  ...  view the full decision text for item 11

Minutes:

The Council’s Joint Corporate Management Board had recently undertaken a review of resources for Legal & Democratic Services. It was apparent there was an under resource as a result of a long term failure to invest in these functions and a corporate failure to consistently understand the critical role those teams played in supporting effective decision making and culture. Both Councils’ leadership needed to be assured that the legal, democratic and governance functions of the authorities were resilient and robust and meeting their statutory obligations. The current position presented a significant risk for both Councils and it was essential that such functions were appropriately resourced to mitigate risk and to enable continuous improvement and attain an adequate position of good assurance in decision making over the long term.

The Executive report set out a number of recommendations to address the shortfall in resources. The recommendations were addressed to both Executives and sought commitment to provide additional officers to jointly serve both councils. For clarity, the Guildford Borough Council recommendations had been set out on the Supplementary Information Sheet. It was noted that Waverley Borough council Executive had approved its own recommendations in this regard the previous week.

The report was introduced by the Lead Councillor for Regulatory and Democratic Services who was pleased to endorse the recommendations.

As the recommendations proposed an increase in expenditure the Executive’s attention was drawn to paragraph 15 of the report where a summary of options was set out. The underfunding of the governance function and the resulting potential risk to both councils was noted and that the option to do nothing would be unacceptable. The option to set up a duplicate team in each council would not be cost effective, noting that three of the posts already existed at Waverley but would need to be created at Guildford. Whereas a joint team providing a shared service appeared the best option in terms of cost and for shared learning and development. Initially, the expenditure would be met from this year’s underspend and reserves. Thereafter, it would be added to the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) for next year’s budget. The Executive were advised that a similar report would be coming forward in regard to the Finance Team in due course.

The Leader agreed that the proposals in the report for a well-resourced joint governance team serving both councils supported the spirit of the collaboration as well as acknowledging the recommendations in the SOLACE report.

The Executive described the additional resources and proposed staffing structure as essential to ensure the council had the proper expertise in place to implement improvements and ensure good decision making and resilience. Consequently, the Executive,

RESOLVED:

(1)         That the Joint Head of Paid Service’s proposal to create a role of Joint Executive Head / Assistant Director - Legal as set out in para 15.1 of the report submitted to the Executive, be approved.

(2)         That the Joint Head of Paid Service’s proposal to create a role of Joint Executive Head / Assistant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11