Determination of Urgent Business
In terms of Standing Order 28(6)(vi), and in accordance with Section 50(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, the Committee was informed that it had to determine (1) that the items on the agenda were of an urgent nature; and (2) that the Committee required to consider the items and take decisions thereon.
The Committee resolved:-
(i) to agree that the report entitled ‘Interim Arrangements for Head of Legal and Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer’ was of an urgent nature and required to be considered this day; and
(ii) to agree that the report entitled ‘Amendments to the Recruitment Process for Director of Corporate Governance’ was not of an urgent nature, and instruct that it be submitted to the next meeting of the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee.
At this juncture, Councillor Yuill intimated that he wished for an additional item to be added to the agenda in the following terms:-
That this Committee -
(1i) deplores the decision by the Council to ban the Standards Commission for Scotland from holding on Council premises on 15 April a hearing into the conduct of members of this Council; and
(2) instructs officers to immediately issue an invitation to the Standards Commission for Scotland to use Council premises for this hearing and to provide such other logistical support as the Standards Commission may require.
The Chief Executive explained the background to the situation, emphasising that having taken advice from officers, she had informed the Standards Commission that it would be preferable not to hold the hearing on Council premises on 15 and 16 April due to it falling within the pre-election period, and therefore it was not considered appropriate to use Council premises for a hearing which would generate significant media attention of a sensitive nature. She added that the Standards Commission had written to her on 1 April expressing their disappointment at the decision, and requested that she reconsider and provide them with a final decision by 2 April. The Chief Executive explained that she had not yet concluded her deliberations and therefore had not reached a final decision on the matter.
The Convener ruled Councillor Yuill’s motion incompetent in terms of Standing Order 18(1)(iii), as the decision had been taken by the Chief Executive and not by the Council, however she was willing to allow Councillor Yuill to move an alternative form of wording which was competent.
At this juncture, Councillor McCaig asked if a decision was made by officers under delegated powers on whose behalf would they be making it. Mrs Alyson Mollison, Legal Manager, advised that they would be making it on behalf of the Council, however that was not necessarily the same as the decision being made by the Council. The Convener requested that this be recorded in the minute.
Following further questions to the Chief Executive and other officers, Councillor Yuill advised that his revised wording was as follows:-
That the Committee agree to instruct officers to immediately issue an invitation to the Standards Commission for Scotland to use Council premises for their hearing scheduled for Aberdeen on 15 and 16 April 2015.
The Committee further resolved:-
(i) to accept the additional item onto the agenda, agreeing that it was of an urgent nature and required to be considered this day; and
(ii) to consider the matter as the last item of business.