Agenda item

To receive the joint report of the Chief Executive, Director of Legal Services and Service Director of Democratic Services and Communication, which updates Members on the introduction of Corporate Joint Committees (CJCs) as provided for in the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill which is currently awaiting Royal Assent (anticipated to be granted in early 2021); asks Cabinet to consider draft regulations which would be made under that legislation in respect of the establishment and operation of CJCs; and seeks Members feedback on the consultation initiated by Welsh Government in respect of those draft regulations.



The Director of Legal Services referred Members to the Joint report before them advising that through the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill provisions had been included to create via regulations, a vehicle for consistent regional collaboration between principal councils through the use of  Corporate Joint Committees (CJCs). Members were advised that Welsh Government recognise that collaboration is not new to local government, with principal councils collaborating effectively in a range of areas for a long time. The Director referenced the significant role Rhondda Cynon Taf Council had played in establishing collaborations across the Cwm Taf Morgannwg footprint and wider South Wales region.


Members were advised that the aim through CJCs was to ensure there were consistent, resilient and accountable regional arrangements for the delivery of three important functions (i) strategic land use planning (ii) strategic transport planning and (iii) economic development. It was added that Welsh Government believe that by establishing CJC’s through regulations it would provide more coherence and less complexity in the approach to regional governance arrangements in exercising the three functions proposed.


The Director provided Members with a brief overview of the key functions of a CJC including functions, membership, establishment, voting rights, co-opted Members, staffing and resources and scrutiny.  Members were advised that initial start up funding would be provided for and that the inaugural meeting of the CJC would need to be undertaken by September 2021.


Before concluding the Director advised that the Draft Regulations shaping CJCs was currently out for Consultation and informed Members that at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting on the 9th December 2020, Members of the Committee discussed the draft regulations and feedback from that meeting would form part of the overall response to the consultation.


At this juncture in the meeting the Leader called upon County Borough Councillor M Adams, as Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee who proceeded to provide the Cabinet with an overview of Scrutiny’s comments in respect of the draft regulations.


The Deputy Leader thanked the Scrutiny Committee for their feedback and echoed some of the concerns raised.  The Deputy Leader commented on the maximum discretion needed in regional Local Authorities when working within CJCs in respect of governance arrangements and functionality.  The Member also reiterated concerns in respect of  co-opted members and the implications this would have on democracy; the ambitious timescales set out with the September 2021 start date and the lack of scrutiny arrangements outlined within the draft regulations which she added was a must for any accountability.


The Leader commented that he was happy in principle with the concept of CJCs and spoke of some potential concerns with mandating of functions exercised by CJCs.  He added that for CJCs to be successful they needed to be shaped and  driven forward by Local Government. 


The Cabinet Member for Enterprise Development and Housing agreed that Elected Members needed to drive the agenda forward in respect of CJCs and also raised concerns in respect of the proposed elected and non elected membership.  The Cabinet Member saw the benefits that co-opted members would bring in respect of expertise but felt that this would be better served on a sub committee of a CJC, rather than reducing democratic accountability on the CJC itself.


The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services commented positively on the sharing of best practices and the further opportunity to minimise duplication adding that CJCs provided further scope for financial savings for Authorities.  The Cabinet Member welcomed the financial support to be provided in respect of initial start up costs which would take away the burden from Local Authorities.


The Cabinet Member for Adult Community Services and the Welsh Language queried how the CJCs would relate to other established joint working arrangements referencing the Joint Education Service and Regional Partnership Board.  The Director of Legal Services advised that such arrangements would continue as is although there could be potential future scope for these to be included within the CJC arrangements.   The Leader commented that the WLGA’s view in respect of this was that the Local education footprint was already delivering through its own arrangements and should therefore not be touched and that CJCs should take forward smaller areas first.


The Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion concluded the discussions by also paying tribute to the high standard of work delivered by the existing collaborative arrangements and commented on the importance for Local Authorities to shape the needs for delivery  in order to maximise the outcomes achieved.


Following detailed discussions it was RESOLVED:


      I.         To note the Welsh Government (WG) Consultation document, attached at Appendix 2 to the report, which relates to draft regulations that would establish the South East Wales CJC and then exercise the following functions across the region; (1) economic well-being, (2) strategic development planning, and (3) developing transport policies;


    II.         To give delegated authority to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader, to complete the final written response to the WG consultation based on Members’ feedback at the meeting and feedback received from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on 9th December 2020 and submit that response to WG prior to the consultation closing. 


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