Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, South Northamptonshire Council, The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester, NN12 6AD

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Rebecca Breese (South Northamptonshire Council), Councillor Chris Lofts (South Northamptonshire Council), Councillor Suresh Patel (Northampton Borough Council) and Councillor Peter Rawlinson (South Northamptonshire Council).


Minutes pdf icon PDF 91 KB


The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 14 May 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Questions from Public and Members


The Chair, Councillor Jonathan Nunn advised the Committee that he had received two requests from members of the public to ask questions of the Committee: David Jones, Chair of Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Mary Clarke, Citizens Advice Bureau.


In addressing the Committee, David Jones explained that Healthwatch Northamptonshire had requested that the West Northants Joint Committee consider and respond to the following question put on behalf of residents across the County.


“What steps are the Joint Committees taking to ensure that the new unitary authorities put respect for diversity and equality of opportunity at the heart of their mission and values so that these principles clearly shape their approaches to developing Health and Social care services, in partnership with NHS colleagues and others?”


The Chair advised the meeting that a written response (annex to the Minutes as set out in the Minute Book) had been tabled and circulated to all West Northants Joint Committee (WNJC) Members and meeting attendees which set out the steps that had been taken to ensure this objective was met.


The Chair advised that Mary Clarke had contacted the Committee Clerk to advise that she had unfortunately been delayed and he would allow her to address the meeting when she arrived, assuming it was before the close of the meeting.


Report of the Governance Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 133 KB

(Copy herewith)

Additional documents:


Councillor Phil Larratt presented the report and reminded the WNJC that the proposed draft Constitution (Appendix A to the report) was for the Shadow Council not the West Northants Unitary Council (WNUC). The Shadow Council could amend, adapt and would likely revisit the draft Constitution for the new WNUC. The Governance Task and Finish Group had identified topics and matters for consideration for the Shadow Council when developing the WNUJ draft Constitution and these were set out at Appendix B to the report.


The documents had been drafted on the basis of the proposed West Northants Unitary Authority becoming operational in April 2020, however, the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had now confirmed that the proposal would now be taken forward for the West Unitary Council to become operational in April 2021. Changes would therefore be required to the document to reflect the new date and any other consequential changes following parliamentary approval of the Structural Change Order in October 2019.


Councillor Phil Larratt highlighted that that the Chief Finance Officers were happy with the Financial Procedural Rules but had highlighted the document was a working draft and must be considered in that light.


Councillor Phil Larratt reported that the Task and Finish Groups had worked well together in an atmosphere of openness and transparency and expressed thanks to members of all Task and Finish groups, in particular, Councillor Peter Rawlinson, and officers who have supported the Group.


The Chair thanked the Task and Finish Groups and the supporting officers for their hard work.


In reference to Appendix B, Councillor Matt Golby, commented that with the delay to vesting day, there was more time for work to be done on area committees and in establishing a Youth Council. There was an opportunity to learn best practice from others and this could potentially be done by forming a Working Group.


Councillor Chris Millar commended the work of the Task and Finish Group and commented that the delay to Vesting Day meant there was time for the Shadow Council to give consideration to the areas raised by the Task and Finish Group.


Councillor Ian McCord thanked the Task and Finish Group for their hard work and commented that he believed that the Constitution for the West Northamptonshire Shadow Council should not be approved as set out at recommendation “d”. Approval should wait until the Structural Change Order came into force as this could impact on when the Shadow Council comes into being and changes may be needed to the Shadow Constitution. The Task and Finish Group should be asked to meet after the Structural Change Order is published to make amendments as necessary.


The Borough Secretary and Monitoring Officer, Northampton Borough Council) confirmed that the removal of this recommendation would not have a negative impact.


Councillor Ian McCord subsequently proposed that recommendation “d” be deleted and replaced with a recommendation that the Shadow Constitution be referred back to the Task and Finish Group and amend  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Questions from Members and Public


The Chair invited Mary Clarke to ask her question to the Committee.


Mary Clarke began by apologising if her question was outside the remit of the Committee but she felt it was important for the topic to be put on the table. Mary Clarke asked the West Northants Joint Committee about funding the voluntary and community sector in the interim period before the unitary authorities were fully established, and also about the likely funding mechanisms in place thereafter as there were currently variances between authorities in terms of grants / funding. If future funding was to be via tender, Mary Clarke queried what scrutiny would be in place to ensure a fair process whereby the lowest bidder wasn’t automatically awarded a tender.


The Chair responded to the question explaining that the funding arrangements at each authority would be in place until 2021, subject to the respective council’s budget processes. Going forward, one established principle was to work with partners to get the best arrangements for all.


Councillor Danielle Stone commented that the new unitary would need to set principles. She explained that was a champion of co-design and co-delivery which avoided competitive tendering. It was important to work with the voluntary sector to help residents as it eased pressure on other services.


Councillor Ken Ritchie added that there would need to be a serious discussion about voluntary organisations and how they were supported querying if there may be value in establishing a Citizen’s Assembly, which could include existing and potential Voluntary Sector partners.


Councillor Ian McCord referred to the “Prospectus for Change” which had recently been launched and set out an integrated approach to delivering Local Government Reform. It would be necessary to look at how each Council currently operated as there were differences and working with, funding and support to the Voluntary Sector should and would be part of this of this work rather than separate extra work.


Matters of Urgency which by reason of special circumstance the Chair is of the opinion should be considered