Future funding and management of Knowsley’s Parks decision called in – what does it mean?
What is a call-in?
As part of the council’s overview and scrutiny arrangements, all decisions taken by its Cabinet are subject to a time period in which they may be ‘called in’ by other elected members to be looked at again.
Once called in, and not subsequently withdrawn, the decision will be examined at a meeting of the relevant Scrutiny Committee, which is made up of councillors who do not sit on the Cabinet. Once they have considered all of the information they will make recommendations about what should happen next.
Who can call in a decision of Cabinet?
According to the council’s Constitution, a decision can be called in either by a group of five councillors or by the Chair or Vice Chair of the relevant scrutiny committee.
A clear case for the call-in must be made, in accordance with the “criteria for call-in” set out in the Constitution, setting out why the individual or group of individuals thinks the decision needs to be re-examined.
What does the call-in mean for the parks decision?
Once the call-in process was triggered (5 December), the decision made by Cabinet on 28 November was effectively put ‘on hold.’ No work to progress this decision has or will be undertaken until the Sustainable Borough Scrutiny Committee has met to consider this. This meeting is due to take place at 6pm on Tuesday 19 December 2017 in the Council Chamber, Huyton.
Who called in the parks decision and why?
The decision was called in by Cllr Sean Donnelly, in his capacity as Vice Chair of the Sustainable Borough Scrutiny Committee. The following criteria and reasoning cited for the call-in are recorded on the papers for this meeting.
The reasons cited by Cllr Donnelly are as follows:
Criterion 4 (some relevant consideration has been overlooked in arriving at the decision)
- The Cabinet report lacks clarity in relation to the future of the workforce which would be directly affected by this decision
- The report fails to adequately explain the rationale used to identify the 17 sites outlined in the report for disposal
Criterion 5 (the process by which the decision was made was deficient in some way)
- The report lacks sufficient clarity surrounding the financial implications and the methodology adopted in relation to the assumptions used in arriving at the £40 million endowment figure and any long-term impact this may have on the Council’s budget
- The report fails to adequately explain the rationale used to identify the 17 sites outlined in the report for disposal.
What is the role of the Scrutiny Committee?
The Scrutiny Committee is not able to ‘ratify’ or ‘overturn’ the decision previously made by Cabinet.
The Committee, however, must consider the decision in light of the call-in and take into account any additional information presented in that respect. The Committee will focus on the reasons for the call-in and any representations from Cllr Donnelly, the relevant Cabinet Member (Cllr Eddie Connor – Neighbourhoods portfolio) and officer (John Flaherty – Executive Director for Place).
A response to each of the issues raised in the call-in request has been provided and is included in the meeting papers. The Committee will consider each of these responses in turn and determine whether or not they address the issues raised.
In line with Scrutiny procedure rules, the Committee will then determine the next steps.
How is the make-up of the Scrutiny Committee decided?
Membership of the Sustainable Borough Scrutiny Committee was decided at the start of the Municipal year at the Annual Meeting held in May 2017. Scrutiny Committees must reflect the political makeup of the council as a whole – so there is representation from both Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors.
What could the Scrutiny Committee decide?
After examining each of the reasons for the call-in, the Scrutiny Committee will vote on what recommendation to make. This could be:
- Dismiss the call-in. This would mean the decision of Cabinet would take effect immediately.
- Refer the decision back to Cabinet for further consideration
- Refer the matter to a full meeting of Council for them to consider the call-in *
The Scrutiny Committee will reach a decision at the end of the meeting.
* Please note: If the Committee decides to refer the matter to full Council, that meeting would then be able to vote only on whether the call in is dismissed or the decision referred back to Cabinet. The Council is not able to ‘ratify’ or ‘overturn’ the Cabinet’s decision.
Are members of the public permitted to attend the Committee?
Yes, the public can attend the meeting to observe the proceedings. However, in line with the Constitution there is no provision for members of the public to ask questions or contribute. Reasonable but limited space is available within the Council Chamber and this will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
How do we find out the decision made by the Committee?
The minutes of the meeting and what has been agreed will subsequently be made available on the Council’s website, and a video of the meeting uploaded to YouTube.