Parliamentary Question for the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government (Phil Hogan TD)
For WRITTEN ANSWER on 17th June 2014
To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the changes and differences in the role and functions of city and county managers vis-à-vis chief executive officers of city and county councils since the introduction of the Local Government Reform Act 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Action Programme for Effective Local Government – Putting People Firstsets out Government policy in terms of a range of local government reform measures, including matters covered in Chapter 11 to reinforce the primacy of the elected council within the local government system and to rebalance the role of the council in relation to the former position of County Manager. Building on this, the Local Government Reform Act 2014 reinforces the primacy of the elected council within the local government system, and provides a legislative basis for a stronger and more explicit statutory expression of the powers of elected members and the duty of the Chief Executive to comply with policy as set down by the elected members, together with measures to strengthen the capacity generally of the elected council to oversee the business of the authority.
The change from Manager to Chief Executive is an important aspect of clarifying, in a more modern sense, the appropriate roles of the executive in implementing the policy of the council, with the elected members acting as, in effect, the board of directors of the authority. In that context, elected members now have the power of decision over the appointment of the individual recommended by the Public Appointments Service for the Chief Executive post in their authority, while retaining the independence of the selection procedures of the Public Appointments Service.
The powers of the elected members in overseeing the implementation of policy by the Chief Executive have also been strengthened, including specific provision for –
– The requirement on the Chief Executive to submit monthly management reports;
– The requirement on the Chief Executive to report, and if requested review, the actions taken or planned to implement the directions of the council in their reserved functions, and the power to require the Chief Executive to indicate the changes in the actions intended to implement a reserved function where the elected members give reasons why they consider the actions already taken or planned are not sufficient;
– The requirement that the Chief Executive advise on the review of any policy, or the implementation of any policy, approved as a reserved function;
– The requirement on the Chief Executive to report on, and if requested review, his/her exercise of executive functions;
– A strengthened Corporate Policy Group (CPG), with the Cathaoirleach and Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) Chairs being joined by a representative of each municipal district where not otherwise on the CPG;
– The requirement on the Chief Executive to give advice and respond to requests for information to all working levels of elected members below the full council (municipal district, committees); the requirements apply to the full council only at present;
– The requirement to present draft policy proposals to the council, or the relevant SPC as appropriate, in a timely manner;
– The requirement on the Chief Executive to have regard to views of elected members as policy is being developed by them, rather than only when it is fully formed;
– Inclusion in the Corporate Plan of all policy positions of the council (which are reserved functions) not otherwise captured by policy statements.
The Local Government Reform Act 2014 also creates some important new reserved functions to be discharged by the elected members, including the adoption of integrated local economic and community development plans, and service delivery plans. The role of the elected members is also being strengthened in the context of the new system of municipal districts including in the context of the draft local authority budgetary plan.