Appointment to the Independent Remuneration Panel
The Committee was informed that the Independent Remuneration Panel provides the Council with advice on its Members’ Allowances Scheme, the amounts to be paid and the pensionability of allowances where relevant, together with any other matters that may be required by law as set out in Article 2.5 of the Council’s Constitution.
Persons appointed to the Independent Remuneration Panel may each serve for a period of four years from the date of their appointment and Members of the Panel may be re-appointed on the expiry of their term of office, subject to no person serving on the Panel for more than a total of eight years.
The Members of the previous Panel had all served for eight years and therefore had to stand down. It is now necessary for a new Panel to be constituted.
Before reporting to the Standards Committee the Monitoring Officer is required to consult with as wide a range of organisations as possible including those representing local businesses, faith communities, voluntary and community groups and public service organisations. The Monitoring Officer may also invite views from the general public via the local media.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer arranged for consultation with the Gravesham Business Network, which resulted in expressions of interest and in requests for information from a number of people.
A wider consultation then took place through the Council’s normal channels. This involved an email to thirty-nine bodies or individuals with various voluntary, faith or community interests, the Afro-Caribbean Forum, Street Pastors, Parish Councils and some local churches.
It is now considered that the consultation has been carried out satisfactorily. The Independent Remuneration Panel must be constituted of not more than three or not more than five Members. Sufficient nominations have thus been received for a Panel to be constituted. There seems to be no provision for formal substitutes, although under the circumstances it seems clear that should a Panel Member resign he could readily be replaced.
As a result of this lengthy procedure the Monitoring Officer has received firm expressions of interest from the following people:-
i. Jag Sidhu, Director of Nick Building Contractors Ltd;
ii. Idowu Anthony-Ajileye of Tonidol (UK) Ltd;
iii. Jasvinder Gill, Senior Partner of Hatten Wyatt Solicitors;
iv. Louise Brisley, Business Adviser of Switch Business Solutions;
v. Maxine Fothergill, Managing Director of Amax Estates (also an elected Member of the London Borough of Bexley); and
vi. David Brown, Partner of Gullands Solicitors.
The Protocol for the Appointment of an Independent Remuneration Panel confirms that Full Council makes appointments, upon the recommendation of the Standards Committee following a report from the Monitoring Officer.
As the Constitution restricts membership of the Panel to between 3 to 5 Members there will need to be a selection process.
In order to speed up what could be a very lengthy and protracted process the Monitoring Officer proposed that he contacts each of the candidates applying the criteria as set out in Constitution to select the most suitable candidates for the role.
The Monitoring Officer will then report back to the Standards Committee setting out his findings, having satisfied himself that the constitutional criteria has been met.
The Committee acknowledged that the previous Panel recommended a significant increase to Members’ Allowances which was not endorsed by Full Council due to the financial situation affecting the Council at that time and staff having a pay freeze. The Committee therefore requested that when the new Panel is constituted and it reviews Members’ Allowances, the Panel be given parameters/comparisons on a suitable increase.
The Monitoring Officer advised that he would investigate whether other local authorities pay remuneration to the Independent Remuneration Panel such as expenses.
1. the progress made to date be noted; and
2. the way forward set out in paragraph 5.0 of the report be endorsed.