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Councillors told to speak less

Created on 20/10/2020 @ 06:55
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Newtown's county councillors are to be told to speak less at Powys council meetings.

In a bid to try and shorten council meetings a series of changes are being proposed, including cutting the amount of time a councillor can speak on an issue.

Yesterday, councillors on the Democratic Services Committee recommended that speech times should be shortened to five and two minutes.

Councillors are having meeting over Microsoft Teams due to the Coronavirus situation.

Motions for discussion at council meetings will need to be submitted six days in advance.

Any proposals to changes motions will need to be submitted three days before the meeting.

A review of the length of Council meetings was done across Wales between October 2018 and March 2019.

Powys’ meeting tines ranged from two hours and 54 minutes to six hours and 19 minutes, while the average length in Wales, is two hours and 39 minutes.

Cllr Jackie Charlton had looked at the times that recent meetings for Monmouthshire, Suffolk and Hertfordshire councils have taken.

She believed that compared to those, Powys meeting times were average.

Cllr Charlton said: “It’s the only opportunity that councillors have to speak on behalf of their ward.

“What we’re doing is saying that members make these meetings longer, but there’s actually a mix of things.”

She pointed out that the time it takes for reports and presentations made by officers, members of the cabinet and council leader, as well as discussing the motions, all add up.

Cllr Charlton believed that trying to make the meetings more efficient will be,”taking away from the democratic process.”

Cllr Sarah Williams believed that the chairing of meetings needs to be stronger, especially if several councillors are making the same point several times over.

Cllr Roger Williams said: “What does make our meetings longer is when we get this issue of amendments during the meeting.”

Head of Legal and Democratic Services, Clive Pinney, said that these are had to be presented in writing by 5pm the day before the meeting.

Mr Pinney said that “minor amendments” can be made if they occur during the course of debate.

Cllr Williams added: “A lot of the meeting is thinking aloud – what does that amendment mean?

“The motions should be there six days before a meeting and amendments, three days.

“That gives people plenty of time to think about the consequences of the motion and what amendments should be made.

“We can structure it better, and have a lot more discipline on amendments.”

As part of the move to speed up meetings political groups will also be reminded that they should nominate specific councillors to speak on certain uissues at meetings.

This was adopted last year and had not been used.

A trial period of three meetings is suggested – excluding the annual meeting , and will need to be agreed by councillors at their next ordinary council meeting.


By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service


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