Waverley Borough Council Home Page Waverley Borough Council Home Page


Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 23/06/2003
Starting Time of Council Meetings and Public Question Time



Summary & Purpose
This report puts forward proposals for changing the starting time of all evening meetings including Council, Executive, Committees and Sub-Committees, and for developing public question time at meetings.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
N/A


APPENDIX B
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 23RD JUNE 2003

_________________________________________________________________________

Title:
STARTING TIME OF COUNCIL MEETINGS AND
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME

[Wards Affected: All]
_________________________________________________________________________

Summary and purpose:

This report puts forward proposals for changing the starting time of all evening meetings including Council, Executive, Committees and Sub-Committees, and for developing public question time at meetings.

_________________________________________________________________________

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

The aim of the changes is to make it easier for Waverley residents and councillors who work during the day to attend meetings and to open up Council meetings so that residents can make their views known.

E-Government implications:

There are currently no e-government implications, but there may be future developments on developing use of the Council’s web site to inform and involve the community in the work of the Council.

Resource and legal implications:

The proposals can be met within existing staffing resources, and introducing an informal question time at meetings of the Council, Executive and Overview and Scrutiny Committees has no legal implications. However, introducing a scheme to allow public speaking at regulatory committee meetings, including Development Control and Licensing meetings, will have legal implications that need further investigation.

_________________________________________________________________________

Starting time of evening meetings

1. The Leader of the Council has proposed that all meetings of Council, the Executive, Committees and Sub-Committees should begin at 7.00 p.m. The aim would be to make it easier for Councillors and members of the public who work during the day to attend evening meetings.

2. The constitution no longer stipulates a 6.30 p.m. start time, but to give adequate notice, the Officers propose that this change should be implemented from 1st September 2003. There would be staffing implications to this change, but these should be accommodated in existing resources.

3. When the Council last changed starting times of meetings in 1999, it was from 7.00 p.m. back to 6.30 p.m. The 7.00 p.m. start had been in operation for 2 years.

Public Question Time at Council, Executive and Overview and Scrutiny Meetings

4. The Constitution includes provision for both petitions and public questions at meetings under Council Procedure Rule 10. The Surrey Local Committee for Waverley has recently introduced an additional informal process.

5. The Leader of the Council proposes that Waverley’s process be extended and made less formal. It would also be better publicised and members of the public encouraged to attend meetings and ask questions in an informal setting. The more formal process of petitions and formal questions could continue to be available as well, initially. People wishing to ask questions would be encouraged to contact officers beforehand, both to establish that the question did fall within Waverley’s powers and duties, and to give some indication of the subject matter and number of questions.

6. He suggests that the total time be limited to initially 15 minutes for public questions before the proposed later start time of meetings, i.e. from 6.45 p.m. The Chairman and Officers would be present from this time, and other Members invited to attend.

7. In a question to the last Executive, Mr Gates suggested alternatives, including that meetings might still start at 6.30 p.m. with informal public questions for up to thirty minutes either at the start of the meeting or at a later set time, when the meeting would adjourn to allow the public to ask questions. This would avoid the situation where the Chairman and Members would still have to attend at 6.45 p.m. even if no members of the public appeared to ask questions.

8. Officers will monitor the operation of the informal scheme. Members may wish to review the success of the informal question time after an initial period of operation, and if necessary extend the time available for questions.

Regulatory Meetings – Licensing and Development Control Committee and Sub-Committees

9. Currently, general formal public questions are permitted on policy matters, but questions relating to individual applications are not permitted. If the scheme set out above for informal questions were introduced, this would have to be made clear to the public.

10. The Planning Services SIG deferred last year the question of public representations at development control meetings, and this was agreed by the Council. Many Councils operate a range of systems, and the Officers are currently researching best practice and the systems used by other Councils in the area and will report back to a future meeting.

Conclusion

11. The aim of introducing an informal question time is to encourage Waverley’s residents to become more involved in the Council’s decision-making process. This could be also helped by changing the starting time of meetings.

Recommendation

The Executive is recommended to:

1. agree to adopt an informal public question time at all meetings from 1st September 2003, but for Development Control and Licensing and Regulatory meetings only on general questions of policy, not individual applications, and to agree a timescale for a review, if felt desirable;

2. ask the officers to report as soon as possible on proposals for a scheme for allowing the public and officials to speak on individual applications at Development Control and Licensing and Regulatory meetings; and

3. recommend Council on any proposal to change the starting time of evening meetings.

________________________________________________________________________

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

________________________________________________________________________

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/03-04/133