Agenda item

Area Constituency Committees' Ways of Working - Report of the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services)


Considered -


A report by Daniel Harry, Democratic Services and Scrutiny Manager, North Yorkshire County Council regarding the work of the Area Constituency Committees.


Some of the key points highlighted in the report are as summarised below:


·         There are six Area Constituency Committees which are coterminous with the six Parliamentary constituencies within North Yorkshire.  Each committee meets formally in public four times a year

·         Work to develop a new way of working for the area committees is underway as part of the Local Government Review ‘Localities’ work stream

·         It is envisaged that a series of informal, development meetings will be held which enable councillors to build up their understanding of the constituency area and the new operating model of the area committees in the new unitary authority

·         The role of the committee is to improve the quality of life for people in their area by acting as a ‘critical friend’ to policy makers

·         The committee work programme is owned by the committee and support is provided in its development by Democratic Services.  The emphasis is upon items that are: relevant; in the public interest; add value; and being scheduled in a timely and efficient way

·         There are opportunities for the committee to lead on local scrutiny of a matter that has been identified by one of the Council’s five thematic overview and scrutiny committees.  An example of where this has worked well in the past is the local scrutiny of the redevelopment of the Castleberg Hospital at Giggleswick.


There followed a discussion with the key points as summarised below:


·         There needs to be a discussion at these meetings about the shape and form of the new iteration of the Area Constituency Committees.  This committee has a key role to play in determining how they will work in the future.

·         The new committees will need to play a lead role in economic development in the area

·         The geographical basis of the committees may need to be reviewed so that it is more relevant to local people and more meaningful for local organisations and stakeholders

·         The committee has to have more teeth and decision-making powers.  If not, then it will continue to be a talking shop

·         The local MP is keen to see the role of the committee develop and play a more meaningful role locally

·         The meetings of the Area Constituency Committees that are currently scheduled as those that are ‘business as usual’.  As such, there is a work programme to be delivered over the course of the next three meetings.  There are other places where members can feed into the development of these committees

·         A member working group will be setup in July/August to engage a broad range of councillors on the development of the Area Constituency Committees

·         The Locality workstream will be bringing an options paper to the Executive and overview and scrutiny in the next few months

·         More powers around highways matters would be welcome

·         There is a need for all members to work with the Executive and portfolio holders on the development of the Area Constituency Committees

·         More devolution of decision-making would be welcome

·         There is a need to be careful not to overload the new committees with roles and responsibilities as the scope could become unmanageable

·         Planning and licensing decisions at a local level will be key to the success of the new committees

·         There is a need to focus upon the work of the existing committees here and now and not be diverted by discussions about the next iteration of the committees.


Councillor Simon Myers, Executive member for Planning for Growth, gave an overview of the work that was underway regarding the development of the next iteration of the Area Constituency Committees.  He said that member working groups were being setup and these would provide a key forum for members to engage on the development of the committees. 


Councillor Simon Myers said that it was likely that the decisions around how local planning would be delivered by the Area Constituency Committees would be made around November 2022.  This would then make it clear what the likely work load of the committees would be, the frequency of meetings and what other roles and responsibilities they would have.


Resolved –


a)         That the committee notes the report.


Supporting documents: