Tuesday, 4 November 2014

WLGA Governance Review final report - Carmarthenshire Council

Update Nov 5th - My further comment, and a press release from local Plaid AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas and MP Jonathan Edwards can be found here; WLGA Report - The toxic culture recognised


As this long awaited report, required, you will remember following the Wales Audit Office reports, has only just been published, I have not had time to study the contents. I have provided a link to the report below along with the 39 recommendations and will comment further later on today. It is definitely in need of interpretation.
The recommendations are to be implemented between the next three and six months.


Organisational Culture, Leadership and Values

Recommendation 1: The Council should implement a cultural change programme that
addresses the vision and values of openness and transparency, how it undertakes its business,
and its commitment to provide services for citizens and communities. As part of this
programme, the council should:

- Develop, agree and promote a set of public service and leadership characteristics and
values that should apply to members and officers’ role descriptions;

- Develop and establish a consistency on the respective leadership roles of elected
members and officers;

- Designate or establish a cross-party Constitutional Review Working Group to develop
the new Council Constitution based on the new modular constitution and the
recommendations from the Peer Review.

Recommendation 2: The Council should ensure that the ongoing review of the Press and
Media Protocol fully considers the implications of the new statutory Code of Recommended
Practice on Local Authority Publicity in consultation with media stakeholders on the Media
Protocol, and clarifies the Council’s policies on advertising through local media.

Recommendation 3: The Council should review its approach to public engagement in line
with the recommendations of the Scrutiny Task and Finish Review of the Council’s Consultation
& Engagement Mechanisms.

Recommendation 4: The Council should ensure that the new senior management team
arrangements are established in accordance with a clear policy mandate for a cultural change
programme set out by the Executive Board and Council.

Recommendation 5: The Council should introduce and communicate revised guidance on
report writing for senior officers who should take responsibility for drafting and checking
relevant financial and/or legal implications

Recommendation 6: The Council should review its approaches and issue guidance around the
criteria for ‘Exempt’ and ‘Urgent’ Items and handling of Declarations of Interest with an annual
register of interest for Members and any senior officers reporting to or advising Members on
Recommendation 7: The Member Development Programme and Strategy should be updated
and led by members through Democratic Services Committee.

Recommendation 8: Member Personal Development Reviews should be led by members, with
appropriate support from Training Managers

Recommendation 9: The Council should consider the appointment of a Member Development
Lead within the Executive Board to work with Chair of Democratic Services on championing and
coordinating member development and support.

Recommendation 10: The Council should promote and support members’ use social media
and provide a social media training programme.

Recommendation 11: All members should produce Annual Reports in order to promote
openness and transparency about the role and contributions of councillors

Recommendation 12: The Council should communicate Business Management Group terms
of reference to all members and external stakeholders through the Council website.

Recommendation 13: The Council should endorse and implement the recommendations of
the Policy and Resources Scrutiny Task and Finish Review of the Council’s Consultation and
Engagement Mechanisms

Recommendation 14: The Council should publish the Register of Members’ interests on its

Recommendation 15: The LSB should consider webcasting its meetings to encourage
engagement and ensure greater transparency of decision-making.

Recommendation 16: The LSB website should be updated to include agendas and papers of
forthcoming meetings and an archive minutes of meetings

Council Meetings 

Recommendation 17: The Council should produce a ‘Councillors Guide’ to the Constitution
and ensure all members are provided with appropriate briefing/training in advance of
introduction of new constitution

Recommendation 18: The Council should produce a public guide summarising key aspects of
the Constitution

Recommendation 19: The Council should undertake a survey of councillors regarding
preferred meeting times every two years and encourage Committees to meet flexibly at times
convenient to the members.

Recommendation 20: The revised constitution should allow members to ask a supplementary
question. Members’ Questions on Notice should also be a standard item on the Council Agenda
even when no questions are tabled.

Recommendation 21: The revised constitution should relax the requirement for signatories
for Motions on Notice e.g. proposer and seconder. The constitution could include a safeguard
such as numbers of Motions per councillor per meeting/per year.

Recommendation 22: The revised constitution should not include the reference to allow
Motions to be referred to another committee/Executive Board

Recommendation 23: The Council should:

• Promote the opportunity available to members of the public to table questions at Council
• Have a standard item on the agenda for public questions even if none are tabled
• Table all public petitions on the Council meeting agenda
• Include a dedicated online petition page on its website
• review its approach to monitoring attendance in the Public Gallery
• Consider allowing the public filming of council meetings

Recommendation 24: The revised constitution should place greater prominence of the role of
Council Chair, in particular in receiving and determining the validity of and acceptance of
Motions or Questions on Notice (in conjunction with the ‘Proper Officer’)

Recommendation 25: The Council should ensure that all Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs
undergo chairing skills training and are encouraged to participate in peer observation and/or

Recommendation 26: The Council should review its approach to producing minutes of

Recommendation 27: Whilst the reports of Scrutiny Committees should be on the Council
Agenda allowing further deliberation by the full Council, minutes of scrutiny committees should
be included en bloc ‘For Information’

Executive Board

Recommendation 28: The Executive Board Forward Programme should be regularly updated
and communicated widely

Recommendation 29: The Council should promote and publicise ‘travelling’ Executive Board
Meeting, with an option for a set time period of public questions.

Recommendation 30: The Council should introduce webcasting of Executive Board Meetings
held in County Hall

Recommendation 31: The Council should ensure that all members receive information
relating to exempt items and that non-executive members should remain for exempt items, as
is practice at most other councils.

Recommendation 32: Non-executive Members, with permission of chair, should be able to
ask questions at Executive or comment on an agenda item, as is practice at some other

Recommendation 33: The Council should allow non-executive members to observe Executive
Board Member Decision Meetings.

Overview and Scrutiny

Recommendation 34: Executive Board Members should only attend Scrutiny Committees
when invited by the Chair and must attend when invited.

Recommendation 35: Executive Board Members should present reports and answer
questions on policy at Scrutiny Committee, supported by senior officers on matters of policy,
procedural or technical clarification.

Recommendation 36: The Council should clarify and/or review the respective terms of
references and relationships of Audit and Scrutiny

Recommendation 37: The Council should revise the call-in process when developing the new
constitution in line with least restrictive practice in other authorities and allow the call-in of
exempt items.

Recommendation 38: The Council should introduce a set time-period for public questions at
each Scrutiny Meeting.

Recommendation 39: The Council should review its approach to scrutiny of the Local Service

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