WAO requirement for Powys Local Authority to make urgent changes to the consitiution

carol Jarrett made this Freedom of Information request to Wales Audit Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Wales Audit Office,

The WAO has required Powys Local Authority to urgently amend it's constitution to prevent opposition leaders speaking at Cabinet meetings. Could you please advise:

1. As a member of the public I felt this was democracy in action so I would like to know on what rationale you base this requirement?
2. What hard evidence did the WAO consider which led to the requirement for Powys Local Authority to take urgent action to amend the constitution and preclude leaders of the opposition speaking at cabinet meetings.
3. Why was the requirement considered of such importance as to necessitate urgent action.

Yours faithfully,

Carol Jarrett

Karan Sanghera, Wales Audit Office

3 Attachments

Dear Ms Jarrett,

 

Thank you for your email of 21 March 2017, in which you requested
information as follows:

 

“1. …on what rationale you base this requirement [for Powys local
authority to amend its constitution]?

 

“2. What hard evidence did the WAO consider which led to the requirement
for Powys Local Authority to take urgent action to amend the constitution
and preclude leaders of the opposition speaking at cabinet meetings.

 

“3. Why was the requirement considered of such importance as to
necessitate urgent action.”

 

I am considering your request in accordance with the procedures set out on
the Wales Audit Office website at:
[1]http://www.audit.wales/openness-and-tran....

 

The procedures are intended to ensure that requests are dealt with in
accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information
Act 2000, the Code of Practice set under section 45 of the 2000 Act and
other relevant legislation.

 

I shall write to you again once I am in a position to provide a
substantive response, though I may write to you before then if I require
any clarification of your request.

 

Please note that we have a policy of publishing in a disclosure log on our
website information that we provide in response to requests where we
consider that this is in the public interest. We will not, however,
publish personal information if this would be unfair and so breach the
first data protection principle. In line with this, we will generally not
disclose the identity or other personal information of requesters. We
will, however, disclose the identity of requesters if this is in the
public interest and doing so would be fair, such as in the case of holders
of public office. If you have any concerns regarding inclusion of our
response to you in the disclosure log, please let me know.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Karan Sanghera

Cynorthwyydd y Gyfraith a Moeseg / Law and Ethics Assistant

 

Ffôn / Tel: 029 2032 0552

E-bost: [2]karan.sanghera@archwilio.cymru  

E-mail: [3]karan.sanghera@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [4]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [5]www.audit.wales

 

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y bwriadwyd anfon yr e-bost hwn dylech ddinistrio pob copi a hysbysu'r
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Mae Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg neu’n
Saesneg a byddwn yn ymateb yn yr iaith rydych chi wedi ei defnyddio.
Rhowch wybod os yr hoffech dderbyn gohebiaeth gennym yn Gymraeg yn y
dyfodol. Ni fydd gohebu’n Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

Os byddwch yn mynychu cyfarfod yn Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, rhowch wybod
i’r trefnydd os yr hoffech gyfrannu i’r cyfarfod yn Gymraeg ac/neu os yr
hoffech dderbyn gwasanaeth Cymraeg ar y dderbynfa yn ystod eich ymweliad.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.audit.wales/openness-and-tran...
2. mailto:karan.sanghera@archwilio.cymru
3. mailto:karan.sanghera@audit.wales
4. http://www.archwilio.cymru/
5. http://www.audit.wales/
7. https://twitter.com/WalesAudit
9. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wales-Aud...
11. http://walesauditoffice.wordpress.com/

Karan Sanghera, Wales Audit Office

3 Attachments

Dear Ms Jarrett,

 

Further to my email of 24 March 2017, I am now in a position to respond to
your request of 21 March 2017, which was for information as follows:

 

“1. …on what rationale you base this requirement [for Powys local
authority to amend its constitution]?

 

“2. What hard evidence did the WAO consider which led to the requirement
for Powys Local Authority to take urgent action to amend the constitution
and preclude leaders of the opposition speaking at cabinet meetings.

 

“3. Why was the requirement considered of such importance as to
necessitate urgent action.”

 

I should at the outset make clear that the right to information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 is a right to access recorded information
rather than a right to be provided with explanation. It is, however, open
to public authorities to provide explanation.

 

We do not hold information that meets your request. This is because the
Wales Audit Office (WAO) has not required Powys County Council to amend
its constitution in any way. The WAO has functions of monitoring and
advising the Auditor General for Wales and providing resources, including
staff, for the exercise of the Auditor General’s functions. The WAO does
not itself have any functions of auditing or directing the Council.
Furthermore, while the Auditor General does have functions of auditing and
reviewing Powys County Council, and may make recommendations to the
Council, the Auditor General has not required the Council to amend its
constitution. Any changes made to Council’s constitution are a matter for
the Council to decide.

 

It may however be helpful if I also explain that staff of the Wales Audit
Office exercising functions of the Auditor General have reviewed
governance in Powys County Council and provided the Council’s Chief
Executive with a draft report on 20 February 2017. Paragraph 22 (below) of
that report appears to me to be relevant to your request, though it
concerns the role of Scrutiny chairs rather than opposition leaders.

 

“Scrutiny chairs are able to speak at Cabinet meetings. However, our
observation of Cabinet found that it is unclear to what extent Scrutiny
chairs can exert influence on service change decisions at this relatively
late stage in decision-making, and their attendance at Cabinet meetings
has the potential to blur accountability to members of the public
observing. We understand that Cabinet meetings are often time consuming
and the Council has not focused meetings sufficiently on key priorities.
The Council needs to review and refocus the role of Cabinet and ensure it
uses other governance mechanisms appropriately when considering
significant service change. The examples we found of effective use of
governance arrangements to inform service changes demonstrate that the
Council can build on and learn from these for future service changes.”

 

This same material was provided to the Council in final form on 22 March
2017.

 

Staff of the Wales Audit Office gave feedback to the Council following
their review of governance. While the role of group leaders speaking at
Cabinet was not mentioned within the final report, WAO staff did identify
this as an issue during their review and fed this back in their
discussions with the Council. This issue was discussed by the Council’s
Democratic Services Committee, cabinet members, scrutiny chairs and group
leaders. The Democratic Services Committee then made a recommendation to
the council, following which, the council decided to amend its
constitution.

 

I have not applied any exemptions, but if you have any queries or concerns
about my response, please email me.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Karan Sanghera

Cynorthwyydd y Gyfraith a Moeseg / Law and Ethics Assistant

 

Ffôn / Tel: 029 2032 0552

E-bost: [1]karan.sanghera@archwilio.cymru  

E-mail: [2]karan.sanghera@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [3]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [4]www.audit.wales

 

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Description: Description: [6]Dilynwch / Follow @WalesAudit
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[7]Description: Description:
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This email and any attached files is private. If you are not the intended
recipient please destroy all copies and inform the sender by return email.

For further information on the Wales Audit Office and details of other
ways to contact us please visit our website at www.audit.wales.

The Wales Audit Office welcomes correspondence in Welsh or English and we
will respond to you in in the language you have used. Please let us know
if you would like to receive future correspondence from us in Welsh.
Corresponding in Welsh will not lead to a delay.

If you are attending a meeting at the Wales Audit Office, please let the
organiser know if you would like to contribute to the meeting in Welsh
and/or if you’d like to receive a Welsh language reception service during
your visit.

Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw ffeiliau atodedig yn breifat. Os nad atoch chi
y bwriadwyd anfon yr e-bost hwn dylech ddinistrio pob copi a hysbysu'r
anfonwr drwy anfon e-bost yn ôl atynt.

Am fwy o wybodaeth am Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru a manylion am ffyrdd eraill
o gysylltu â ni, ewch i'n gwefan www.archwilio.cymru.

Mae Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg neu’n
Saesneg a byddwn yn ymateb yn yr iaith rydych chi wedi ei defnyddio.
Rhowch wybod os yr hoffech dderbyn gohebiaeth gennym yn Gymraeg yn y
dyfodol. Ni fydd gohebu’n Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

Os byddwch yn mynychu cyfarfod yn Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, rhowch wybod
i’r trefnydd os yr hoffech gyfrannu i’r cyfarfod yn Gymraeg ac/neu os yr
hoffech dderbyn gwasanaeth Cymraeg ar y dderbynfa yn ystod eich ymweliad.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:karan.sanghera@archwilio.cymru
2. mailto:karan.sanghera@audit.wales
3. http://www.archwilio.cymru/
4. http://www.audit.wales/
6. https://twitter.com/WalesAudit
8. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wales-Aud...
10. http://walesauditoffice.wordpress.com/