Council set to extend temporary decision-making powers

Powers adopted by Berwick Town Council to proceed with business in the face of internal divisions are set to be extended.

Friday, 22nd February 2019, 11:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 11:56 am
Brought to you by the Berwick Advertiser team.

In November, councillors agreed to delegate all full council powers to its committees until the end of February.

It was an attempt to get the council through a period of limbo after councillors delivered a vote of no confidence in Mayor Brian Douglas in protest at his handling of meetings and threatened to walk out of any full council meetings which he chaired.

Those temporary powers

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are now set to be extended until the end of the civic year in May.

Members of the budget and administration committee were presented with three options when they met last week. They favoured extending the existing temporary delegation to May rather than allowing it to lapse or to instruct officers to prepare, in consultation, a scheme of delegations that reflects the current situation and includes the existing delegations laid down in the financial regulations.

That recommendation, proposed by Coun Alex Gibson, is expected to be considered by the full council when it meets on Monday evening.

Town clerk Gareth Davies, in a report to members, stated: ‘Council decided, in November, for reasons that will be familiar to all members, to delegate all of councils powers that could be delegated, to its committees. This delegation was for a finite period, which will shortly expire.

‘As officers, our advice to council will always be that the decision as to the extent to which powers are delegated to committees is, within the legal framework, a matter of taste for council rather than a matter on which officers have or should have, a preference.

‘However, there are two pieces of advice that, as officers, we feel we need to offer to council.

‘The delegation of powers agreed in November 2018 was a temporary solution to a particular problem. It is strongly arguable that any further extension of that temporary solution should not go beyond the end of this civic year, and that any delegation for the civic year 2019-20 should be dealt with as a formal change to standing orders, and that any recommendation that such a change should be instituted for 2019-20 should be accompanied by a clear schedule of delegations appended to the council’s Standing Orders.’