Agenda item

Joint Scheme of Delegations to Officers

Minutes:

Having considered this report at its previous meeting, the Group received an updated version of it which presented further revisions to the proposed draft Officer Scheme of Delegations, set out at Appendix 1, for members’ deliberation.  The report also presented a revised Proper Officer Scheme, set out at Appendix 3, which should be read in conjunction with the Officer Scheme of Delegation.  The purpose of the revised Scheme of Delegation and Proper Officer Scheme was to seek to align decision-making across the two Councils where possible.

 

In response to questions raised at the previous meeting of the Group, members were advised that:

 

·            Staff salaries could be locally determined and this would be reflected in the Scheme.

·            There was a limited amount of discretion in respect of setting service charges within the HRA as the Councils were merely recovering funding due to them by law.

·            Although the Senior Governance Officer had been requested to review the definition of ‘highways’ in subsection 3.8.5, a subsequent discussion with the relevant Assistant Director had revealed that this delegation was no longer relevant and should be deleted from the Scheme.

 

The Scheme had been amended to reflect the changes requested by the Group at its last meeting and subsequent modifications requested by officers as follows:

 

Delegation 1.4.15

 

The Group agreed the request from an officer to delete the word ‘routinely’ from this delegation to avoid the requirement to notify ward councillors on every occasion that the delegation was exercised which could become cumbersome for both parties.  It was felt that the term ‘where appropriate’ should apply to both notifying and consulting ward councillors.

 

Delegation 2.1.8

 

This suggested change featured the addition of wording to delegate authority to the Head of Paid Service to lead the pay negotiations with the Unions and agree the annual staff salary increase.  As there was reluctance for WBC’s Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) to be abolished, it was requested that this delegation be deferred for the time being to enable the Leader of that Council to consult with Executive colleagues in this regard.  The Senior Governance Officer undertook to explore the related implications for the JNC.

 

Delegation 2.3.4

 

The Group indicated its acceptance of the additional wording requested by the relevant Assistant Director to specify that the delegation concerning the sale of land and buildings held in the HRA up to 0.2 hectares in area which were less than £200,000 referred to all tenures, whether leasehold, freehold or shared ownership.

 

Delegation 2.5.9

 

With regard to the inclusion of properties on the List of Assets of Community Value, it was confirmed that whilst the management of the List sat within the Planning function, the determination of applications to join the List was the responsibility of the Legal team with the Head of Paid Service having the authority to decide related appeals.  It was agreed that this function be undertaken by the Legal team at both Councils.

 

Delegation 2.5.13

 

Attention was drawn to the misspelling of the word ‘statutory’ in this delegation.  The Group indicated that it was content with the inclusion of any statutory increases and financial limits specified in delegations to officers, Procurement Procedure Rules or Financial Procedure Rules.

 

Delegation 2.5.18

 

It was agreed that the words ‘and car loans’ be added to this delegation which concerned the determination of the local average interest rates for local authority mortgages.

 

Delegation 3.1.1

 

The Group expressed its approval of this delegation relating to the exercise of the Council’s functions relating to all housing and homelessness functions in accordance with all relevant legislation and policies of the Council.

 

Delegation 3.1.8

 

It was agreed to add the words ‘or where other need for possession has arisen’ to this delegation regarding the taking of any necessary action to recover possession of a property where a tenant or leaseholder was in breach.

 

Delegation 3.1.9

 

It was noted that the year of the Housing Act 1985 would be added to this delegation which concerned any action in respect of the right to buy under this legislation.

 

Delegation 3.2.4

 

This delegation regarding agreeing service level agreements with voluntary organisations was expanded to include the taking of any action under the agreements.  It was noted that ‘GBH’ should be corrected to ‘GBC’.

 

Delegation 3.4.19

 

The inclusion of the additional wording ‘including agreeing pre-planning application fees’ had been requested to expand this delegation which sought to undertake an annual review of the pre-application charging regime and revise the fees if appropriate.  As there was some confusion regarding the differentiation between the two references to pre-planning / application fees, the Senior Governance Officer undertook to look into the matter.

 

Delegation 3.5.9

 

It was agreed that the words ‘and decide’ be added to this delegation concerning the treatment of proposed neighbourhood development plans, neighbourhood development orders, area designation requests from qualifying bodies and Neighbourhood Forum designation requests.

 

Delegation 3.5.11

 

In the interests of clarity, it was requested that the wording of this delegation be altered to refer to development plans.

 

Delegation 3.7.1

 

It was felt that the inclusion of the suggested additional wording in this delegation regarding the job role was beneficial.  Attention was drawn to the lettering and it was suggested that the final ‘T’ should be ‘V’.

 

Delegation 3.8.1

 

The reference to the Repairs and Maintenance Fund had been deleted as it no longer existed and had been replaced with the words ‘within agreed budgets’.  It was noted that this delegation referred to the corporate property portfolio and did not include property that was specifically the responsibility of other officers e.g. leisure centres, possibly where a contractor may have repair and maintenance obligations.

 

Delegation 3.8.3

 

This delegation, which concerned the acquisition and disposal of land and the granting of leases etc, did not relate to HRA residential leases.  As there were no properties to which the Leasehold Reform Act applied, the associated reference would be deleted.  The rationale behind the value limit of £200,000 was the threshold for a key decision, the amount of which was under constant review.

 

Delegation 3.8.5

 

There was a proposal to delete this delegation which referred to the exercise of the Council’s powers affecting the design or maintenance of highways as it was no longer applicable.  It was advised that GBC, and presumably WBC, owned numerous parcels of land and private roads and confusion may have arisen by the reference to highways in this context.  The Senior Governance Officer would explore this matter and ascertain whether some level of delegation should be retained in respect of private roads in the Councils’ ownership.

 

Delegation 3.8.6

 

The Group accepted the proposed deletion of some wording in section (c) regarding land and premises held in the HRA and the request for further consultees being the relevant portfolio holder and Assistant Director / Joint Strategic Director.

 

Delegation 3.8.8

 

An additional consultee in the form the relevant Assistant Director / Joint Strategic Director - Place was sought.

 

Delegation 3.8.9

 

In the interests of clarity, it was agreed that the phrase ‘on land formerly owned by the Council’ be added in relation to restrictive covenants.

 

Delegation 3.8.13

 

It was proposed that the wording of this delegation be widened to refer to ‘including and responding to statutory notices’.

 

Delegation 3.8.14

 

This delegation, which related to making applications for the provision of architectural and building surveying services to those bodies covered by the Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970, would be deleted as the Councils no longer provided those services.

 

Delegation 3.8.15

 

Deletion of this delegation, which related to the determination of all matters relating to the siting of bus shelters, bus stops, seats and other street furniture, was proposed as it was no longer required.  The provision of bus shelters was the responsibility of Surrey County Council.

 

Delegation 3.8.18

 

The disposal of assets for less than the best consideration was a delegation to GBC only and was exercised within the parameters set out in the Assets Disposal Policy and in consultation with the portfolio holder, Joint Strategic Director of Finance and any other relevant Joint Strategic Director.  There were numerous circumstances for disposing of assets for less than the best consideration in line with statutory guidance including charitable purposes and specific use of land required by the Council.  It was confirmed that this delegation remained acceptable.

 

Delegation 3.9.13

 

It was proposed that the phrase ‘and determine’ be added to this delegation to facilitate a response to objections to the Off Street Parking Order, in consultation with the portfolio holder.  Car parking charges were set as part of the budget process and it was noted that whilst there was a requirement to notify the public of increases in parking charges, there was no necessity to respond to objections in this respect.  Amendments to Parking Orders tended to relate to the location of parking spaces.  It was agreed that this delegation should exclude responding to complaints regarding parking charges.

 

Delegation 3.8.17

 

The phrase ‘provided there is sufficient budget’ be added to this delegation relating to taking all actions to alleviate flooding under the Water Management Acts, Water Act 1989 and Land Drainage Act 1991 relating to the Council’s land drainage functions.

 

Severance Payments

 

A further delegation to the Assistant Director of Organisational Development would be included in the Scheme to agree severance payments, in addition to statutory redundancy / early termination of employment payments, up to the sum of £20,000 within the Councils’ agreed policy.  The requirement for consultation with the Leader could be included.  It was anticipated that such payments would be funded from the staffing budget as such redundancies may contribute to the efficiency of the service.  As job roles changed it may become necessary to transfer this responsibility to other officers of equal seniority.

 

Proper Officer Scheme

 

The Senior Governance Officer explained that each Council was required to designate a Proper Officer for the purposes of some legislation.  Additional Proper Officers and some changes to the Scheme were highlighted.  Attention was drawn to a typographical error in the Criminal Justice & Police Act 2001 section on page 103 where the word ‘seize’ should be substituted for ‘size’.

 

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