Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by the Independent Group on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (LAG 26)


  In examining the above the Independent Group on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council wish to make the following comments:

  1.  Transparency has not been helped at the East Riding by the changes. Attendance at an Executive meeting makes it apparent that the decisions have mainly been made beforehand in briefing meetings and group meetings which are attended only by the three political groups. There is little or no debate on important subjects and decisions are taken without the public present, the reason being given that people could be identified. The removal of the consultation initials would have been sufficient to prevent that. Whether it is more efficient, we do not yet know. It is certainly less accountable.

  2.  Councillors who are not part of the caucus feel ignored and have difficulty in raising issues. The requirement on the East Riding to have five members from the relevant scrutiny committee sign any call in papers and that there has to be two different parties makes it very difficult to call anything in, particularly for minority parties. The new rules will help if this unitary Authority agrees to adhere to them.

  3.  The local electorate finds it difficult to understand the new arrangements. Without area committees who meet in their areas it is very distant. Area committees allow the public to see their local government working more openly.

  4.  Scrutiny has not really yet developed sufficiently to become effective. It is still partly officer led and the way in which majority parties work makes it difficult to raise any issue for discussion. Minority parties constantly have to check that the few powers they retain are not eroded.

  5.  The East Riding are not opting for the directly elected mayor model.

  6.  The East Riding have three chairmen and two vice-chairmen allocated to every Review and Scrutiny Committee and three chairmen to all other committees. As Members of the East Riding we are very concerned about the way this is organised. This seems an inappropriate use of Members time and of the Council's budget. The minority Group of Independents does not have the opportunity to chair any Committee.

  Enclosed is a local ruling to the Police Authority.

  7.  In conclusion, as Members of a small group who are independent minded we have major concerns that the East Riding does not adhere to the recommendations of Hilary Armstrong MP when she said "all Members should have an input". We feel that by working collectively we are best serving the residents of the East Riding.

Councillor Barbara Jefferson JP

Leader of the Independent Group on behalf of

Councillor C Allerston

Councillor R Allerston

Councillor J Cox

Councillor H Saynor

Councillor A Suggit



  The East Riding of Yorkshire Council is disappointed that the High Court has rejected part of its case challenging the manner in which Elected Members have been appointed to the Humberside Police Authority. The Council took the serious step of seeking Judicial Review because important principles of national significance were at stake.

  Elected Member nominations to the Police Authority are made by a special joint committee made up of councillors from all four Humber area unitary councils. This committee must decide how many representatives each council should have, who they are and also ensure that those chosen reflect "the balance of the parties across the members of the Councils as a whole". There are nine Elected Member representatives on the Humberside Police Authority—other members are drawn from the magistrates and lay community.

  The East Riding has been engaged since June in a two part dispute about the manner in which the Joint Committee made nominations to the Police Authority.

  The first and most important issue involved a challenge to the committee's original decision to allocate the East Riding just two places, which meant the area had only half the number of representatives on the Police Authority as the two South Bank councils. Those councils, North and North East Lincolnshire together have a smaller population than the East Riding, but were, nevertheless, allocated four places. Hull was allocated three places.

  Hull City Council fought to uphold the decision but eventually conceded agreeing to pay East Riding legal costs. In September the Joint Committee allocated East Riding three seats. A further dispute than arose as to how the places were allocated according to political parties. East Riding went back to court arguing in line with advice given to the Joint Committee by leading Counsel and the Home Office, that it was wrong only to take members from the three main political parties into account and that Independent Councillors should also be counted.

  The present Judicial Review has focused on strict legal interpretation of whether or not this contravenes the Police Act 1996.


  In a joint statement the East Riding Leaders, Councillors Parnaby, Willie and Male said:

    "Effectively the judgement means police Authorities are politicised. Matters are unlikely to rest here not least because a number of Police Authorities across the Country have Independent Councillors nominated to them. This judgement means their nomination is unlawful. Even the barrister for the Joint Committee said the argument he was advancing to exclude Independents may be undesirable but that parliament is the place to put that right. We expect the affected Councils will now lobby for change and we will refer this to the Local Government Association".

  In giving her judgement the Judge said:

    "It is in many ways difficult to see why, if a notional 70 of 100 seats were won by Independents, they should not find a voice on the joint committee. It may be, this court knows not, that parliament, given an apparent increase in independent elected representatives nationwide may wish to address and clarify the matter".

  Although the judgement can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, the East Riding has decided not to take this step so as to ensure the budget setting process for the Humberside Police Authority, which is to begin early in the New Year, is not jeopardised.

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