Agenda item - Proposals for Transforming Meetings of Full Council

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Agenda item

Proposals for Transforming Meetings of Full Council

Report of the Director of Strategy & Governance (copy attached); together with an extract from the proceedings of the Governance Committee meeting held on the 9th March 2010 (to be circulated with the Addendum papers).

 

Minutes:

68.1         Councillor Oxley introduced the report, which outlined the current operation of the Council procedural rules and proposed some amendments to improve the way in which council meetings operated.  He noted that there had been an extensive consultation process and believed that the proposed changes would provide a greater emphasis on the work of the council; as well as maintaining the democratic accountability to hold the Executive to account.  The provision for public involvement through questions and deputations was retained and he hoped would encourage more interaction.  However, the changes to Members’ questions should enable specific matters to be dealt with through written questions and answers and leave the time allotted for policy debate raised through questions at the meeting.  It was also proposed that the actual council meeting would close at 9.00pm unless it was decided to continue, and in this respect all matters not reached would then be dealt with by way of a vote so that they did not back-up to the next meeting.

 

68.2         Councillor Kitcat stated that he wished to move a series of amendments to the recommendations but in so doing would withdraw amendment 5, and therefore moved amendments 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 as listed and circulated.  In moving the amendment, he stated that the intention was recognise the need to represent residents and serve the public, which he felt were being restricted by the proposed changes.  He believed that there was a need for more council meetings and that there should not be a limit to the number of notices of motions that could be submitted at any one meeting.  He also questioned the operation of Members’ questions which he felt needed further clarification.

 

68.3         Councillor Fryer formally seconded the motion.

 

68.4         Councillor Mitchell stated that she believed there had been a full consultation exercise in relation to the proposed changes and that they were sensible alterations to the process of council meetings to enable them to be more effective.

 

68.5         Councillor Elgood stated that he had concerns over the proposals and felt that a number of them were a retrograde step in terms of the workings of the council meetings.  He believed the change in how Members’ questions operated could lead to more unruly debate and did not feel that there number of notices of motion should be limited.  He also expressed concern over the reduction in speaking times and suggested that if a specific meeting was to deal with a ‘State of the City’ debate then it should be in addition to the ordinary number meetings set.  He also believed that it would be helpful to split the Annual Meeting into two so that ordinary business was dealt with prior to the mayor making.  He therefore suggested that further discussion should be held and that the report should be deferred.

 

68.6         Councillor West stated that he believed the council meeting was the most important opportunity for councillors and members of the public to engage in political debate.  However, the proposed changes sought to curtail this opportunity and went against the actions to encourage greater engagement in the democratic process.

 

68.7         Councillor Fryer referred to the proposed amendment 3 and stated that there was a need to maintain the opportunity to have as many notices of motion as felt necessary.  They were an effective means of influencing or creating policy and building relations and should not be restricted.  In regard to amendment 6 it was felt that the Annual Meeting should be held separately to any ordinary business such as the appointments to committees.  This would ensure the process of mayor making was not politicised and was something that other authorities undertook successfully.

 

68.8         Councillor Oxley noted the comments and referred to the proposed amendments moved by Councillor Kitcat.  He did not accept amendment No.1 and in relation to amendment No.2, stated that the proposed changes to Members’ questions needed to be looked at as a whole.  There was an opportunity to submit written questions and to receive written answers, which would be circulated at the meeting as currently.  However, oral questions would then be put and answered for a period of 30 minutes and which no notice would have been given.  Both aspects enabled the Executive to be held to account.  In regard to amendment No.3 there was an opportunity to bring forward notices of motion and there was also the ability to put notices of motion to other meetings such as the Cabinet, Cabinet Member Meetings and Committees, although this facility had yet to be utilised.  He believed that recommendation No.4 would give more Members an opportunity to speak and therefore could not accept the amendment.  In respect of amendment No.6 he was unsure how this would help as he believed there were a number of informal processes that enabled agreements to be reached on the appointments so that they could be ratified at the council meeting.  He could not therefore accept the amendments and wished to move the recommendations as detailed in the report.

 

68.9         The Mayor noted that a series of amendments had been moved by Councillor Kitcat.  The Mayor stated that she would put each one to a separate vote, and noted that amendment No.5 had been withdrawn.

 

68.10    The Mayor then put the amendments to vote in the following order, No’s. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 and each amendment was lost.

 

68.11    Councillor Fryer requested that a recorded vote be taken, which was supported by a sufficient number of councillors.

 

68.12    The Mayor noted that a recorded vote had been requested and put the recommendations as detailed in the report to the vote;

 

 

NAME

For

Against

Abstain

Cllr

Alford

x

 

 

 

Allen

x

 

 

 

Barnett

x

 

 

 

Bennett

x

 

 

 

Brown

x

 

 

 

Carden

x

 

 

 

Caulfield

x

 

 

 

Cobb

x

 

 

 

Davey

 

x

 

 

Davis

x

 

 

 

Drake

x

 

 

 

Duncan

 

x

 

 

Elgood

 

x

 

 

Fallon-Khan

x

 

 

 

Fryer

 

x

 

 

Hamilton

x

 

 

 

Harmer-Strange

x

 

 

 

Hawkes

x

 

 

 

Hyde

x

 

 

 

Janio

x

 

 

 

Kemble

x

 

 

 

Kennedy

 

x

 

 

Kitcat

 

x

 

 

Lepper

x

 

 

 

Marsh

x

 

 

 

McCaffery

x

 

 

 

Meadows

x

 

 

 

Mears

x

 

 

 

Mitchell

x

 

 

 

Morgan

x

 

 

 

Norman, Ann

x

 

 

 

Norman, Ken

x

 

 

 

Older

x

 

 

 

Oxley

x

 

 

 

Peltzer Dunn

x

 

 

 

Phillips

 

x

 

 

Pidgeon

x

 

 

 

Randall

 

x

 

 

Rufus

 

x

 

 

Simpson

x

 

 

 

Simson

x

 

 

 

Smart

x

 

 

 

Smith

x

 

 

 

Steedman

 

x

 

 

Taylor

 

x

 

 

Theobald, Carol

x

 

 

 

Theobald, Geoffrey

x

 

 

 

Turton

x

 

 

 

Wakefield-Jarrett

 

x

 

 

Watkins

 

x

 

 

Wells

x

 

 

 

West

 

x

 

 

Wrighton

 

x

 

 

Young

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

39

15

 

 

68.13    RESOLVED:

 

(1)         That the proposed amendments to Council Procedure Rules as set out in paragraphs 4.3, 5.4, 6.2 and 8.2 of the report be approved;

 

         4.3 Duration of Council Meetings

(i)           4 hours after the beginning of the meeting (excluding any breaks/adjournments) a closure motion is moved by the Mayor automatically if the meeting has not concluded by then.

 

(ii)         The Mayor’s closure motion be by way of termination of the meeting under Council Procedure Rule 17.

 

5.4 Member Questions

(iii)       A period of 30 minutes be set aside for Oral Member Question Time.

 

(iv)       That the order of questions be: Leader of the Official Opposition, Convenor of the Green Group, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, then Members in the order of Conservative, Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat until the allocated 30 minutes is used at which time the meeting proceeds to the next business.

 

(v)         The Groups will submit the order in which they want questions taken.  The Mayor will have discretion and flexibility on how this operates in practice, including allowing the Independent Member to ask a question.

 

(vi)       A Member asking a question (but no others) may ask one supplementary.  No Member may ask more than one question.

 

(vii)     There be no requirement to give advance notice of the actual oral questions to be asked.  However, a Member proposing to ask a question should give notice of intention to do so within current timescales for Member questions with an indication of the subject matter.

 

(viii)   Oral questions be limited to general policy rather than technical matters.  If technical questions are asked the Mayor may disallow the question or the Member who is asked the question may decline to answer or state that a written response will be sent.

 

(ix)       The Monitoring Officer will develop guidance for Members on what is policy and what is a technical/operational matter which the Mayor and Members will have regard to in applying the criteria.

 

(x)         Members may submit written questions as now.  These will receive written answers with the questions and replies circulated with the addendum at Council (as now) but no “supplementary” questions.

 

(xi)       The current procedures continue to apply to Cabinet, Committees and CMM’s.

 

6.2 Notices of Motion

(xii)     There be a limit on the number of Notices of Motion presented at Council so that there are no more than 2 Notices of Motion from the 3 largest Groups and no more than 1 from other Groups with any Member not belonging to a political group being able to table a motion at the Mayor’s discretion;

 

(xiii)   In the event that more than the specified number of Notices of Motion are presented from any Group, the relevant group shall decide which ones it wants tabled.  In the absence of such a decision, Notices of Motion from Members of a Group will be taken in the order in which they are received.

 

8.2 Speaking Times

(xiv)   Speaking times be limited to 5 minutes fro the proposer of a motion and 3 minutes for all other speakers.

 

(xv)     Council retains the power to grant an extension of time on a majority vote as now.

 

(2)         That the Head of Law be authorised to amend the constitution to reflect the above, including making an consequential drafting amendments; and

 

(3)         That the changes come into force immediately after the Annual Council Meeting in May 2010.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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