The Chief Executive submitted a report, in order to provide Cabinet with an update regarding Corporate Joint Committees, which were an integral feature of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill.
By way of background information, he explained that the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill was passed by the Senedd on 18th November 2020 and will receive Royal Assent in January 2021. It was a substantial piece of legislation covering electoral reform, public participation, governance and performance and regional working.
The new approach as set out in the Bill, is designed to be a more streamlined, flexible, sector-led approach to performance, good governance and improvement. The intention is for Councils to be proactive in considering how internal processes and procedures should change to enable more effective planning, delivery and decision making to drive better outcomes.
The Chief Executive advised that the establishment of Corporate Joint Committees (CJCs) was an integral feature of the Bill, currently going through the Senedd Committee process. The Bill introduces:
• Powers for councils to initiate the establishment of CJCs covering any functions;
• Powers for Welsh Ministers to establish CJCs covering the four functions of economic wellbeing, transport, strategic planning and school improvement.
CJCs have a role to play in bringing coherence to regional governance, strengthening local democracy and accountability by integrating decision making. There were proposed to be four regional CJCs across Wales covering South East Wales, South West Wales, Mid Wales, and North Wales. The idea would be to build wherever possible, on existing regional arrangements.
The next sections of the report explained some of the principles of how the above would be achieved, including giving details regarding the specific functions of CJCs and how these would be governed by newly introduced Joint Committee regulations.
It was expected, advised the Chief Executive, that the Cardiff Capital Region Cabinet (CCRC) and staffing structure would transform into the South East Wales CJC. The CCRC was an existing and experienced Joint Cabinet Committee and this is the fundamental starting point for a strategy. The key feature of the CCRC approach, was the strength of a Regional Cabinet model which has Leaders (comprising the ten Leaders of Blaenau Gwent; Bridgend; Caerphilly; Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff; Torfaen; and Vale of Glamorgan),recurrently coming together to make decisions in the best interests of the region.
The Chief Executive concluded his submission, by advising that a report was presented to the CCRC on 7 December 2020, setting out proposed principles of the approach of CCRC in respect of the CJCs agenda and details of what this provided were shown in paragraph 4.7 of the report.
The Leader felt that the report represented a key milestone, in that the Bill had received Royal Assent, in turn therefore, allowing for CJC’s to become part of how regional services would be expanded and delivered upon in the future, as a further development to the collaborative working that already exists regionally.
One of the key principles would be that CJCs would comprise of Leaders of local authorities (amongst other members), which would allow for a democratic mandate to be put in place for the future, as well as effective Scrutiny arrangements also. He added that he supported all of the principles that were outlined in the report, which would improve joint working between organisations included in the venture, going forward. A transition plan and a framework for legal agreements would be put in place in order to progress with the CJC’s which was essential. This would have a cost implication however, he stressed.
The Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations referred to paragraph 4.5 of the report, where it mentioned that CJCs would likely be bound by legislation such as the Equality Act 2010, Welsh Language and Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act. She assumed that these would automatically apply in any event?
The Chief Executive confirmed that he fully expected this to be the case and that this terminology had probably been used, as the regulations were presently in the latter stages of draft format as opposed to being fully approved.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet noted and endorsed the report.