Agenda and minutes
Venue: This meeting will be a virtual meeting and therefore will not take place in a physical location
Contact: Rose Blaney Tel: 07385 362773
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillor Gemma Dinsdale.
Declarations of Interests in Agenda Items:
To receive declarations by Members and/ or co-optees of interests in respect of items on this Agenda.
Members are reminded that, in accordance with the revised Code of Conduct, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or other registrable interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests. (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting).
Members are advised however, in the interests of clarity and transparency, to declare at this point in the meeting, any such disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, as well as any other interests.
Members are reminded that they may not, by law, participate or vote in any discussion in a meeting on a matter in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest
Members are advised that they should leave the room during consideration of any items of business in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.
There were no declarations of interests made.
The Chief Executive gave the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) a presentation to outline the timeframe of the project including key dates, as well splitting the meeting into sections to enable the OSC to focus on key areas and ask as many questions as they could on each section. Section one focused on service delivery. Section two focused on financial benefits, sustainability, democratic representation and growth. And section three focused on the East/West option which Copeland Borough Council (CBC) have proposed.
Similar to the previous Special OSC on 17th November 2020, there was a running theme throughout the meeting of councillors voicing their frustration at the timescale and the decision making process, highlighting the difference between information and consultation. Some councillors concurred with the Chief Executive that the level of engagement from the 9th October 2020 had been unprecedented from the Council considering the sub-optimal timeframe. It was also noted that if Copeland had not put forward the option when they did there would not be an option for a two unitary which would keep Copeland and Allerdale together.
The Chair asked whether the invitations to the Cross-Party working group had been sent out to all party leaders. As the Chief Executive was not involved in the organisation of this group, she agreed to follow up and ensure that the invitations had been sent out to all relevant parties. Councillor Wilson and the Democratic Services Manager confirmed that invites had been sent out to all members involved, including two independent members.
Councillor Hailes read out a statement regarding the conduct of members during the special OSC meeting on 17 November 2020. He also noted that after speaking with some residents in his ward and colleagues at Sellafield that they were in in support of the Executive’s proposal for a two unitary model. The Chair noted that they understood why tensions were running high during the last meeting due to the common theme from the meeting regarding the consultation process as highlighted above.
[Councillor Jeanette Forster joined the meeting at 10:19 due to technical difficulties]
Councillor Pollen noted that there needed to be clarity for the community and wondered what evidence there was to support the idea that the financial savings and service delivery would be better in a two unitary model rather than a single unitary. The Chief Executive answered that Cumbria has been in a two-tier system for decades and that this is an opportunity for change, an opportunity for further funding and political growth landscapes and financial change through moving to a unitary system, which would mean more sustainability and a possibility of devolution. The consensus among the majority is to move towards something different even though the process is long and challenging as Cumbria is currently in a weakened strategic position as districts are not on the same page. Following a meeting with other Unitaries, it was noted that they overwhelmingly would not go back to their old governance systems due to the increase in efficiency and ... view the full minutes text for item OSC136