To receive questions from members of the public who may wish to ask a general question of the Mayor, Cabinet Member or the Chairman of a Committee in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12.
Mr. P. Thirlwall referred to a question he had raised at the Cabinet and Commissioners’ Meeting on the 16th October, 2017 regarding the 50 word question limit for Council as part of a review of Standing Orders, which on reflection, he had raised at the Council meeting on the 8th March, 2017 and asked for this to be taken forward.
In coming to the question submitted he was aware that remuneration for Members with special responsibilities was recommended by the ‘Independent Remuneration Panel’ and approved by Council and asked could the Leader explain why Members receiving special responsibility allowances have to be named and approved by Council when they have in fact already been chosen by you or Labour Group?
The Leader explained the procedure in respect of Members’ Allowances was governed by the Local Authorities (Members Allowances)(England) Regulations 2003 which detailed provisions for the establishment of an Independent Remuneration Panel, which was principally responsible for recommending a Members’ Allowances Scheme to the Council. In determining how to set the level of Members’ Allowances, the Council must have regard to the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel.
Both the law and the Council’s own Procedure Rules required the Council to appoint members to committees and to elect Chairs and Vice-Chairs. This provision was enshrined in the Local Government Act 1972. Having considered the political composition of the authority, the Council received nominations from political groups for the positions available and appointments were agreed on the basis of those nominations. It should be noted that special responsibility allowances were paid to members of the Labour Group and the UKIP group for the Leader of the Opposition
The rules in respect of the appointment of members to the Council’s executive, known as Cabinet in Rotherham, were different. The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 saw the introduction of a ‘Strong Leader and Cabinet’ model of governance. Following the Governance Review approved by the Council in 2016, Rotherham adopted this model of governance. Under this system, all executive power was invested in the Leader of the Council, including the determination of the size and composition of the Cabinet, which was reported into Council.
In a supplementary question the member of the public asked without a minute naming a person was the payment of a special responsibility allowance ultra vires? If this was the case why was the Leader of the Opposition not mentioned in the Council minutes at the Annual General Meeting, nor had any Leader of the Opposition who had received an allowance ever been named. How was Councillor Cowles confirmed and paid if he was not named in the minutes and if this was ultra vires would proceedings be sought for the recovery of the monies paid to all Leaders of the Opposition since 1974.
The Leader endeavoured to investigate this matter further regarding the naming of Leaders of the Opposition, but was confident Councillor Cowles was the Leader of the Opposition.
A response to this matter would be provided to the member of the public in writing.