Your Roles in the Council
Through their licensing functions, councils seek the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm. As a member of a licensing committee, you could be involved in decisions about licensed premises such as pubs and premises preparing food, tattoo parlours, casinos, the licensing of taxis, the organisation of events or licensing of street traders.
The Standards Committee
Every council must have a standards committee. At least 50% of committee members must be independent lay members appointed by the council. The committee is responsible for promoting high standards of conduct by councillors, and for adjudicating on alleged cases of misconduct or alleged breaches of the councillor code of conduct. The committee can issue a range of censures, including the suspension of a councillor for six months. All councillors are required to sign the Code of Conduct to ensure they uphold the highest standards.
Standards committees work closely with Political Group Leaders and from May 2022 will ensure that they have the advice, training and support they need to fulfil their duty to take reasonable steps to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by the members of their group and to monitor how well Group leaders are fulfilling these duties.
Standards committees must make an annual report after the end of each financial year to the authority describing how the committee’s functions have been discharged and setting out an overview of conduct matters within the council. This is a new requirement, and the first report is due relating to the 2022/23 financial year. The council will be obliged to consider the report and any recommendations made by the standards committee.
The Governance and Audit Committee
Every council must also have a Governance and Audit Committee, with an independent lay chair. The Governance and Audit Committee reviews and scrutinises the authority’s financial affairs, oversees internal and external audit arrangements and reviews financial statements.
The committee also contributes to the effective performance of the authority by reviewing the draft report of the authority’s annual self-assessment and making recommendations for changes to the conclusions or actions that the authority intends to take. It also makes recommendations in response to the draft report of the authority’s Panel Assessment.
The Governance and audit committee reviews and makes recommendations in relation to the authority’s ability to handle complaints effectively.
The committee also reviews, assesses, and reports on the risk management, internal control, and corporate governance arrangements of the authority.
The Democratic Services Committee
The Democratic Services Committee supports and oversees the work of the Head of Democratic Services in ensuring that councillors and committees and, in particular, the scrutiny function, is provided with appropriate resources and support. The committee makes regular reports to the full council on councillor related matters such as training and development, the support provided to individual councillors and committees and councillor resources such as laptops and mobile phones.