Council services by letter

Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Frankie Belloli, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1263 E-mail:  frankie.belloli@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

228.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

 

Reserve Members may attend meetings:-

 

(i)                 to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)               where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)             the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)              if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: To note the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Member:-

 

Ordinary Member

Reserve Member

 

Councillor Ameet Jogia

 

Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane

 

 

229.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Committee;

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

230.

Question and Answer Session with the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the Leader of the Council, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Commercialisation, the Chief Executive and the Director of Finance to the meeting; he indicated how he would structure questions from the members of the Committee.

 

A Member referred to his previous complaint about the problems with the meeting notification screens at the Civic Centre.  The Chief Executive expressed his own disappointment at the continuing issues, apologised for them and stated that he would personally intervene to resolve the matter.

 

In response to a Member’s query about whether the Concilium companies were subject to the Council’s rules in respect of contracts, financial regulations and health and safety, the Leader of the Council, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Commercialisation and the Chief Executive explained that the arrangements had been designed deliberately to give the companies some freedom to operate more flexibly than public authorities.  There would inherently be some additional risk involved in this, but those involved were expected to manage this appropriately.  The report to Cabinet establishing the arrangements had distinguished between matters which were for the companies to determine and those which were reserved to the Council.  The companies had their own Articles of Association which established how they would operate in accordance with company law and normal business standards.  The Council, as the sole shareholder, had a role in overseeing the performance of the companies and there were regular monitoring reports for this purpose. The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Commercialisation agreed that this should extend to personally reviewing the arrangements with respect to contracts, financial regulations and health and safety.  However, this did not dilute the responsibility of those appointed as Directors of the companies to fulfil their individual duties to operate the companies properly, including fiduciary duties, and to meet all relevant legal requirements and with appropriate safeguards in place.  The relevant staff were trained in these responsibilities.  It was underlined that these were not simply matters of rules and procedures, but also about the organisational culture of the companies and the people operating them.

 

The Member expressed concern that given the fact that the Council was ultimately responsible as sole shareholder and that public resources were involved, these arrangements were too loose and could expose the authority to undue risks, including financial loss.  He asked whether the Council staff acting as Directors of the companies were indemnified for their decisions in the same way as for Council activities.  The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Commercialisation understood that the indemnity arrangements were similar, but he would confirm this.  

 

The Chair asked about progress with those aspects of the Peer Review report which dealt with the engagement between the political groups on the Council.  The Leader of the Council confirmed his willingness to work more cooperatively with the Opposition Group, but a sticking point remained their insistence on submitting excessive numbers of questions to Cabinet requiring written answers.  He stated that he had arranged briefing meetings with the Leader of the Opposition but these  ...  view the full minutes text for item 230.