Draft Strategic Policy Scheme 2019-2024

Introduction

In accordance with the provisions of Section 48 of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended by Section 41 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, the Council shall establish by resolution committees to be known as Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) to consider matters connected with the formulation, development, monitoring and review of policy which relate to the functions of the local authority and to advise the Council on those matters.

Role of the Corporate Policy Group

 The CPG comprises of:

  1. the Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council as its chair:
  2. the Chairperson of each of the Strategic Policy Committes, and
  3. in the case of a municipal district without an SPC chair, a representative of the municipal district concerned.

 The CPG links the work of the different SPC’s, acts as a sort of cabinet and provides a forum where policy positions affecting the whole Council can be agreed for submission to the full Council. An Cathaoirleach will report to the Council on the work of the CPG.  

The CPG should:

  • Play a key role in preparing the annual budget and Corporate Plan;
  • Advise and assist the elected Council in the formulation, development, monitoring and review of policy for the Council;
  • Provide input to the full Council on any matter of general concern to the Council, either on its own initiative or following a request from the Council;
  • Deal with overall issues in relation to service delivery plans, customer service, value for money etc;
  • Co-ordinate the work of the SPCs and monitor their work programmes;
  • Request SPCs to consider particular policy issues where appropriate;
  • Provide feedback to the SPCs on Council policy and views in areas relevant to the SPCs.

 Role and Objectives of Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs)

 The Council is and remains the decision making authority, and the task of the SPCs, as committees of the Council, is to advise and assist the Council in its work.   While it is the task of each SPC to assist the Council in the formulation and development of policy, the final policy decisions rest ultimately with the full Council.   The SPC system is intended to give Councillors and relevant sectoral interests an opportunity for full involvement in the policy-making process from early stages, when policy options are more fluid.

A key role for SPCs will be to focus on strategic issues and in taking a strategic overview of relevant policy areas in the wider context.   Accordingly:

  • SPCs should adopt an annual work programme linked to the local authority’s Corporate Pan and update regularly as necessary.T
  • The SPCs will be represented by the SPC Chairperson at Council meetings.
  • Each SPC’s work will take account of the Council’s overall corporate policy and objectives, comply with statutory provisions, integrate with statutory plans where relevant, and link realistically to financial resources and be responsive to sectoral consultations.
  • The SPC may seek the attendance of public authorities at a meeting for the purpose of assisting in developing policy/
  • The CPG should co-ordinate the work and monitor the work programmes of the SPCs. 

Lobbying Act 2015 - Transparency Code

The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (the Act) is designed to provide information to the public regarding who is lobbying whom about what. Individuals and organisations who participate in Strategic Policy Committees established by local authorities may have obligations under the Act.

 A critical element of public policy formulations by the Strategic Policy Committees is the availability to the local authorities of expertise, skills and knowledge from persons outside of the public service. Where membership of the Committee comprises of at least one person who, for the purposes of the Act is a Designated Public Official, it may be the case that communications within the group could be considered lobbying communications.   The person making these communications may be required to register as a lobbyist and to submit a return of this communication to the Lobbying Register.

However, the Act provides for an exception from the requirement to register in such cases once specified transparency criteria have been put in place.   A transparency code was published by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform to address this situation.   Communications between members of Strategic Policy Committee about the work of the Committee would be exempt where the group in question complies with the Transparency Code.

Full details of Offaly County Council's Draft SPC Scheme can be found here:

DRAFT STRATEGIC POLICY COMMITTEE SCHEME 2019-2024.docx (size 73.7 KB)