Agenda item

Review of Outside Bodies


Sian Millard (Oversight and Governance Manager) presented this item to the Committee.


Plymouth City Council currently appointed representative members to 53 outside bodies. Outside bodies are organisations which are independent from the council, but had an impact on our services or help us to fulfil our responsibilities.


Following the Annual General Meeting of Council in May 2019 it was agreed that a review of the current list of outside bodies was required.


This paper required agreement of the principles for appointments to outside bodies, prior to undertaking a full review on the basis of those agreed principles.


Processes and procedures for ensuring effective updating and management of membership of outside bodies going forward would also be revised and strengthened.


The Audit and Governance committee approved the principles for appointments to outside bodies as follows:


a. Appointments to outside bodies are confirmed at the Annual General Meeting of Council each year, with the exception of appointments of Cabinet members to outside bodies which are confirmed by the Leader.


b. Responsibilities of councillors on outside bodies will depend on the type of body in which a member is involved. These appointments create obligations on the council and individual councillors, particularly where a councillor is asked to be a member or director of an outside body. Therefore consideration needs to be given to ensure these obligations are proportionate to the relationship between the Council and that outside body.


c. Appointments should be made based on the insight/connection that the appointee can bring, for instance some outside bodies are more relevant to councillors of specific Wards. Consideration should be given as to whether a link or specific interest exists between the appointee and the outside body.


d. There should be a memorandum of understanding between the outside body and the appointed representative so that each is aware of and understands their role and obligations. This could include a letter of appointment, provision of insurance cover, expectations as to attendance at meetings etc.


e. Where appropriate, outside bodies should be asked to provide suitable insurance cover for those appointed when acting on behalf of that organisation. This is particularly important where the councillor will be a director or trustee with statutory responsibilities and/or whether they may be taking financial or employment decisions on behalf of the outside body.


f. Members appointed to outside bodies should receive sufficient support from officers to ensure they have the information they need to maximise their contribution to these organisations.


g. Members on outside bodies should provide regular feedback to officers/Council as appropriate and for larger outside bodies and those of strategic importance, this may be by way of an annual or biannual report to a meeting of Full Council.


h. Consideration should be given as to whether an elected member is the most appropriate appointment or whether a Council officer could fulfil the role, especially where outside bodies do not have decision making powers.


i. Where councillors are invited to join an outside body, consideration should be given as to whether undertaking an alternative role as a 'friend' to the body could be more appropriate. This allows support for the outside body and its causes without legal responsibility. An outside body could also opt to appoint a ‘Council Representative’ to act as a liaison and point of contact for the body, without necessarily requiring full attendance at Board meetings.


2. Audit and Governance Committee establish a cross-party working group to review

the current list of outside bodies, to include membership requirements, Terms of Reference, strategic fit, omissions and monitoring of membership requirements of outside bodies, in line with the principles as set out above.


Supporting documents: