Agenda item

To enable the Committee to comment on the Independent Remuneration Panel and Independent Persons’ term of office, exploring alternative options and future recruitment, with consideration to recommendations to Full Council.



The Committee considered whether to comment on the Independent Remuneration Panel and Independent Persons’ term of office, exploring alternative options and future recruitment, with a view to making relevant recommendations to Full Council.


The Committee was reminded of the current situation as follows:-


At its meeting held on 27 November 2018, Full Council had agreed the appointment of Mr David Irvine, Mrs Clarissa Gosling, Mrs Jane Watts and Mrs Sue Gallone as the Council’s Independent Remuneration Panel for the purposes of making recommendations to Council on Members’ allowances. Mr David Irvine, Mrs Clarissa Gosling, Ms Jane Watts and Ms Sue Gallone had also confirmed as the Council’s Independent Persons for the purposes of standards arrangements.


The roles of Independent Remuneration Panel and Independent Persons were still separate but the same individuals had been appointed to both and were, currently, in place until Annual Council in April 2024.  Each role was covered by separate legislation and were different in their nature.


The appointments as Independent Persons (IPs) had been extended for a year from May 2023 to April 2024, by Full Council at its meeting held on 22nd November 2022 (Minute 52 referred) and as Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) members by Full Council at its meeting held on 2nd March 2023 (Minute 108 referred).


Following the decision by Full Council on 22nd November 2022, there was a requirement that alternative arrangements for the IRP be explored further in order to maximise options available with other Councils within Essex and to give consideration to the outcome prior to any future recruitment. During the last year, Braintree District Council (BDC) had expressed an interest in joint working on the role of the IRP (not IP) and had recently advertised to recruit to their IRP role and had included reference to working with other Essex Councils (although Tendring District Council had not been not specifically named).


The Assistant Director (Governance) & Monitoring Officer had participated in the BDC interview process and each candidate had confirmed that they would be interested in joint working with TDC, if this was approved locally as an approach going forward.


Following the aforementioned decision of Full Council in November 2022, the Monitoring Officer reported there was interest in a joint working arrangement whereby a pool of IRPs could be appointed to undertake reviews of Members’ Allowance Schemes for different Councils and the successful candidates through the BDC process could be recommended for appointment by Tendring District Council.


The advertisement of  vacancies for the position of Independent  Person(s) and the Independent Remuneration Panel, the review of applications received, the interview of suitable candidates and the making of recommendations to Council as to who should be appointed was delegated to the Chief Executive under the Council’s Constitution. It was recommended that this delegation be amended to include the Monitoring Officer together with the Chief Executive, so that the administrative process for Tendring could be undertaken and recommendations made to Full Council in July 2024.  Currently, there was no requirement for a review of Tendring’s Members’ Allowances Scheme during that interim period.


It was recommended that, in light of the proposed joint working arrangements for IRPs, the automatic appointment to both roles at Tendring ceased in order to allow different arrangements to be implemented.

It was further recommended that the existing appointments to IPs were extended, to those who expressed a wish to continue, to ensure this Council complied with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011.  The current appointments were working well and there were a few ongoing standards cases whereby consistency and continuity would be beneficial.


The available recruitment and other alternative options were reported as follows:-


(1)    With regard to the roles of Independent Persons for the Ethical Standard arrangements, a pool of Independent Persons was available through the Public Law Partnership (covering Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk) that could be called on by any authority, subject to the necessary approvals through formal appointments. Those arrangements were considered appropriate to use where capacity or conflicts of interest were an issue.  Whilst this Council had previously approved and adopted this flexibility, using the pool had not been required due to this Council having four Independent Persons.  Therefore, it was still considered prudent for Tendring District Council to continue appointing its own Independent Persons whilst retaining the flexibility of a wider pool to call upon if necessary. 


(2)    The IP and the IRP could continue as joint appointments or be separated.


(3)    The term of office for IRP and IPs were currently aligned to the term of office for District Councillors and consideration should be given to alternative approaches such as staggering and overlapping of terms, providing consistency and effective use of resources, preventing regular recruitments. 


(4)    Since the last recruitment undertaken in 2018, the Committee on Standards in Public Life had published its report in January 2019 which, with regards to the role of the Independent Persons and their recommendations, had been responded to by Government in March 2022.  Therefore, it was timely for Tendring District Council to review its own approach and give consideration to different options.


The Committee was reminded of the statutory and constitutional requirements as follows:-


Section 28(6) and (7) of the Localism Act 2011 required the Council to appoint at least one Independent Person to work with the Monitoring Officer within the Standards Framework.


Section 20 of The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) England Regulations 2003 required that an Independent Remuneration Panel shall be established in respect of each authority and that the Panel shall consist of at least three people.


In this Council’s Constitution, the advertisement of vacancies of Independent Person(s) and the Independent Remuneration Panel, the review of applications received, the interview of suitable candidates and the making of recommendations to Council as to who should be appointed, were delegated to the Chief Executive. However, as both of those independent roles required strong engagement with Councillors it was considered appropriate that the views of this Committee were sought.  It was recommended that the existing Independent Persons term of office be extended for a year in order to allow the joint working opportunities for the Independent Remuneration Panel to be implemented.


A Member queried whether this Council could be comfortable with having IPs from Braintree District given the distance that they would have to travel to get to meetings et cetera in Tendring District. The Monitoring Officer responded by stating that all candidates that she had interviewed jointly at Braintree had confirmed that they were happy to participate in joint working and, by implication, travelling. There would be opportunities for hybrid working. In addition, two of this Council’s IPs currently travelled to meetings in the Tendring District from Suffolk.


A Member queried the seven year appointment period as potentially being too long. The Monitoring Officer replied that the appointment period would be up to seven years in order to overlap into the next Council term; there would be a need to carry out a fundamental review of Members’ Allowances in early 2027; this approach would also allow a rolling process of recruitment rather than an “all at once” process.


At the invitation of the Chairman, the Council’s Independent Persons present gave their views on this matter which were summarised as follows:-


·      the roles of the IRP and the IP were quite different and involved differing skill sets so it could be a good approach to separate the two roles going forward;

·      believed that IRP and IP involvement should be ‘in person’ rather than online; and

·      different Councils work in different ways so forming a ‘pool’ might be difficult.


It was moved by Councillor Oxley, seconded by Councillor J Henderson and:-


RESOLVED that the Standards Committee -


(a)    notes the contents of this report (A.1);


(b)    recommends to Full Council that:


(i)      the previous local arrangements for joint appointments to both roles, being the Independent Remuneration Panel and Independent Persons ceases;


(ii)     future arrangements continue to be explored for a joint Independent Remuneration Panel with other Councils, and the delegation for recruitment be extended to the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer for recommendations to be made to a future meeting of Full Council;


(iii)   for the purposes of (b)(ii) the term of office of future Independent Remuneration Panel members be for a period of up to 7 years, being staggered if appropriate, to cover the Review of the Members’ Allowances Scheme required for 2026/27 and into the next term of office for District Councillors; and


(iv)   the term of office for those Independent Persons who express an interest in doing so, be extended for a further year without an application process, in order to allow a separate recruitment exercise to be undertaken for the sole role of Independent Person.    





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