Constitution - Part 5F - Procedure for budget debate at Council



This procedure sets out how the full Council will deal with the debate on the budget proposed by the Cabinet and also what happens if any objections  to the draft budget are proposed or carried.

There is a statutory dispute resolution procedure set out in the Local Authorities (Standing Order) Regulations 2001 that the Council must go through if it wishes to raise any objections to the Cabinet's budget proposals.

In order to ensure that there is sufficient time for the Cabinet to consider any objections, the regulations provide that this procedure only applies where the Cabinet has met on or before the 8 February and made formal recommendations on the budget to the full Council.

In simple terms, under the dispute resolution process if an objection to the Cabinet's draft budget is voted upon as an amendment and carried, Council can only reach an "in principle" decision. Any such objections must be referred back to the Cabinet who must reconsider the budget proposals and report back to the Council meeting provisionally scheduled to take place the following week.

The County Council must set a lawful budget on or before 28 February in respect of the following financial year's budget.

1.1 The following procedure for the debate on the budget will apply:

a) The Leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Groups may speak for up to 15 minutes each

b) All other members have up to 5 minutes.

c) The Deputy Leader of the Council (as the Cabinet member with responsibility for Finance) will introduce the report and move the Cabinet's recommendations;

d) The motion will be seconded by the Leader of the Council. He or she may reserve the right to speak.

e) The Leader of the Opposition will reply and may move any objections to the motion.

f) Any objection moved by the Leader of the Opposition will be seconded and must be circulated in writing. The seconder may reserve the right to speak.

g) The Chair will ask if there are any further objections  and may require that any objection is put in writing and handed to him/her;

h) The Chair will, if necessary, propose that the meeting adjourns for a short time to allow consideration of any motions or amendments before the Council. Private rooms will be available for the Groups to meet.

i) In accordance with Council Procedure Rules 14.10 the Chair will exercise his discretion to permit two or more objections to be discussed together, but not voted upon.

j) As far as possible the Chair will try to alternate speakers from the different groups

k) At the close of the debate the Leader of the Opposition will exercise his/her right of reply;

l) The Deputy Leader of the Council will exercise his/her right of reply;

m) Any objections will be put to the vote in the order in which they were moved.

n) If any objection is carried then the procedure at paragraph 2 and 3 (below) will apply.

o) If any objections put to the vote are lost then the original motion will be put to the vote.

p) If the original motion is agreed then the Cabinet's draft budget will be agreed as the Council's budget;

q) A recorded vote must take place in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 16.6 on all objections and on the original motion.

2.1 This procedure applies if the Cabinet has met on or before 8 February and made formal recommendations on its budget to full Council.

2.2 If the Cabinet's proposed budget is not agreed, either with or without any objections proposed by the other groups, the meeting will be adjourned initially for 1 hour.

2.3 Discussions will take place between the Group Leaders with a view to reaching possible agreement on a draft budget which can be put before Council. Private rooms will be made available for the Political Groups to use.

2.4 If there is a reasonable likelihood that a budget can be proposed which is acceptable to the Cabinet and the Council, the Leader will waive Cabinet's rights to object and for a reference back to a further meeting of the Cabinet.

2.5 The Chair will advise Council as soon as an agreement has been reached.

2.6 If the budget is approved then that decision will take effect immediately and a further meeting of the Council will not be required.

2.7 If the Chair is advised that there is no likelihood of an agreement being reached on the day, he/she will call the meeting to order to notify members of the intention to adjourn the Council meeting.

2.8 If agreement has not been reached and the Leader does not waive his right to object then the Council must inform the Leader of its objections and instruct him/her to require the Cabinet to reconsider its budget proposals in the light of the Council's objections.

2.9 The Leader will then have 5 working days (or a longer period if the Council agrees) to consider the Council's objections and proposals and submit his/her response.

2.10 The Cabinet will meet within that period and following the meeting the Leader may submit a revised budget and/ or inform the Council that he/she disagrees with the Council's objections and the reasons why.

2.11 When the matter comes back to Council it must take into account the Cabinet's response before reaching a decision.

2.12 The Leader will move the Cabinet's budget again, either with the Council's objections incorporated into the budget or without them.

2.13 If Cabinet have not accepted the Council's objections then they will need to be voted on in turn and dealt with in the usual way.

2.14 If they are carried, they will be incorporated into the budget. If they are not carried then they will fall.

2.15 The budget must be approved at the reconvened Council meeting.

2.16 In the event that agreement is not reached at the reconvened meeting then the s151 Officer will consider the necessity to exercise his/ her statutory responsibilities in order to secure a balanced budget.

3.1 A different procedure applies if the Cabinet has not met before 8 February and made formal recommendations on its budget to full Council.

3.2 In these circumstances the statutory dispute resolution under the 2001 Regulations procedure does not apply.

3.3 This means that there is no right for Cabinet to have the opportunity to convene a further meeting to consider any objections submitted by the Opposition Groups.

3.4 Accordingly the Council may amend, approve or adopt the Cabinet's proposals without requiring the Cabinet to reconsider them.

3.5 The procedure at paragraph 2 above will therefore be amended accordingly.