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Agenda item

MEMBERSHIP OF POLITICAL GROUPS ON THE COUNCIL, POLITICAL BALANCE AND ENTITLEMENT TO SEATS

 

To report on the establishment of political groups, the political balance of the Council and the entitlement of each group to seats on the authority’s committees.

Minutes:

In accordance with the Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990, the Proper Officer reported that, since the Annual Meeting on 22nd May, 2019, notification had been received of the operation of a new political group.

 

With effect from 16th July, 2019, there were two political groups in operation on the Council – the Brexit Party Group (12 Members) and the Labour Group (48 Members) – with three non-aligned Members who were not in a political group.

 

There were 149 seats available on Committees, Boards and Panels to which the Labour Group was entitled to 144 seats and the Brexit Party Group to 28.  The remaining 7 seats could not be given to members of the political groups and should be allocated to the three non-aligned Councillors.

 

The Authority had two seats on the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.  The current vacancy must be filled by a member of the Brexit Party and be appointed to by the Council. Councillors Cowles and R. Elliott of the Brexit Party Group nominated Councillor Brian Cutts to serve on the Police and Crime Panel, whilst Councillors Read and Watson of the Labour Group nominated Councillor Cowles to the same role.

 

Councillor Cowles indicated that if the Council were minded to appoint him to the position he would refuse to accept the appointment and would be happy for the matter of which Brexit Party Group representative should serve on the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel to be referred to the Secretary of State for determination. Furthermore he reiterated his view that the Brexit Party Group was entitled to nominate whomever it wished to fill its entitlement to representation on the panel.

 

Councillor Cutts addressed the meeting to indicate that he did not understand why he had been removed from the South Police and Crime Panel.

 

Councillor Read recalled the reasons why the Council in October 2018 had determined that Councillor B. Cutts had not been a suitable representative to serve on the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, after a finding from the Standards and Ethics Sub-Committee that he had breached the Member Code of Conduct. Councillor Read reminded Members that the decision had been reached unanimously following the finding of the Standards and Ethics Sub-Committee. He was clear that any member of the Brexit Party Group except Councillor Cutts would have been an acceptable nomination to serve on the panel. By virtue of his failure to meet the requirements of the Member Code of Conduct, Councillor Cutts was uniquely unqualified to represent the borough.. He further referenced a petition directed to the leader of Brexit Party Group to urge him not to nominate Councillor Brian Cutts as a representative on the Police and Crime Panel, which had received in excess of 350 signatures.

 

Members from all sides of the Council Chamber contributed to the debate as to the suitability of both nominees, with reference being made to the previous contribution of Councillor B. Cutts to the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel since 2016 and the circumstances that surrounded the complaint which led to the finding of a breach of the Member Code of Conduct.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the operation of two political groups on the Council and the detail of their designated Leaders be noted:-

 

Labour Group – Councillor Chris Read (Leader of the Council)

Brexit Party Group – Councillor Allen Cowles (Leader of the Majority Opposition Group).        

 

(2)  That the entitlement of the membership of the political groups and non-aligned Members be agreed and such entitlements be reflected in Council’s appointments of Members to Committees.

 

(3)  That approval be given to the appointment of Members of the Brexit Party Group to Committees, Boards and Panels, and the appointment of Vice-Chair of the Health Select Commission, as set out on the schedule tabled at the meeting.

 

(4)  That Councillor Cowles, a representative from the Brexit Party Group, be appointed to serve on the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.

 

Supporting documents: