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Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Public.

 

To receive questions from members of the public who wish to ask a general question.

Minutes:

A member of the public asked a question in respect of the council’s reluctance to publish details of the recipients of the grants made to charitable organisations and queried the accountability arrangements for such organisations spending public funds.

 

In response, the Leader of the Council explained that an informal review of grants to charities and voluntary organisations in response to such grants and agreed for a response to being provided.

 

Post Meeting Response from the Assistant Director of Financial Services:

 

The Council discloses annually within the Statement of Accounts amounts, including grants, which have been paid to organisations where the Council’s relationship with the organisation meets specific disclosure requirements as set down in the Code of Practice on Local Government Accounting.

 

Under those requirements the Council’s relationships are assessed to determine whether the Council, either through representation or funding level, has a significant influence over the activities of those organisations.  For each organisation, if the influence is deemed significant, and that can vary on an on-going basis, then the name and the amount paid to the organisation are included in the disclosure note.

 

A copy of the Council’s Statement of Accounts is published on the Council & Democracy section of the Council’s website and the relevant note in the Accounts is Note 17.

 

A member of the public asked a question in respect of access to information and private decision making by Commissioners. A further question was put enquiring why the agenda for the Cabinet and Commissioners’ Decision Making Meeting had not been published prior to the meeting.

 

In response, the Leader of the Council explained that the agenda for Cabinet and Commissioners’ Decision Making Meeting had been published on 19 May 2016, complying the access to information rules within the Council’s constitution and statute. The Leader of the Council further explained that the Council was making more information public to enable decision making to take place in public.

 

A further question was asked whether the Lead Commissioner received advice from the Chief Legal Officer of the Council in respect of making decisions in private.

 

In response, the Lead Commissioner explained the legislative remit of Government appointed Commissioners intervening in local authorities and confirmed that executive powers had been delegated to Commissioners by the Secretary of State in February 2015. In doing so, it was confirmed that Commissioners would not be subject to the Council’s Constitution. This position was confirmed by Civil Servants in writing to the member of the public who had put the question. As a third of Executive decision making had been returned to Councillors, it had been agreed that decisions would be made in public. The Lead Commissioner made it clear that there was a provision for urgent decisions to be made between meetings of the Cabinet, providing that such matters satisfied the urgency provisions. He further explained that the rules governing access to information, which were applicable to every local authority, would be complied with by the Cabinet and Commissioners in Rotherham.

 

The member of the public repeated his question regarding advice received by the Lead Commissioner from the Council’s Chief Legal Officer. The Leader of the Council thanked the member of the public for his question and recommended that the matter be pursued through further correspondence with the Lead Commissioner.