Contact: Leanne Rowlands Democratic and Electoral Services Manager
Declarations of Interest
Councillor K Thomas implied that all Members have an interest as it affects all Wards.
The Minutes of the Last Meeting held on 18 October 2022 were accepted and approved as a true record of the meeting.
The Democratic Services Manager presented the Ward Meeting Report to Committee which contains possible changes to the support for ward meetings.
Since the pandemic, the face to face meetings came to a stop and were not re-instated as there are a range of ways of making representation to the public.
It was noted that the council is required under the Local Government Act to encourage residents to engage and the Participation Strategy has been developed. It was noted that people want more of a voice not through just digital means.
Members were advised that the report aims to support all of the requirements on consulting with the public in a broader approach, including face to face approaches and facilitating the feedback from the residents on the decisions on ward meetings.
The report proposes for two ward meetings to be facilitated per year for each ward. The first meeting would be around the budget consultation and the second would be six months later focusing on council performance and service plan feedback.
It was noted that the ward meetings would be supported by officers in setting up the meetings and helping with the publicity to ensure they are well attended.
The meetings would be discretionary as it would be down to the Ward Member requirements. Members were reminded that if every ward wanted to hold twice yearly meetings, that would come to 42 meetings per year and they would require adequate officer support for those meetings to happen.
A consistent approach is necessary and that this is a proposed change in supporting those meetings, it is a requirement for the committee to make and share the process with other Councillors.
The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager went through the consultation feedback from the residents.
Committee raised the following points:
· Councillor Thomas felt that the documentation could be made more accessible and explanatory and used an example, stating that the planning application documents are counter-intuitive.
The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager assured Members that they will be updating the Committee in February to share on how they have progressed the participation strategy.
· An observation was made by Councillor Thomas that the comments from residents in the consultation have an angry tone. The Chair stated that with online feedback, people can hide behind usernames, whereas in neighbourhood committee meetings they are there for a sensible discussion, and therefore accountable for their comments.
· Councillor Thomas noted that the Stow Hill ward should have the ability to have ward meetings and felt it was regrettable they could not have been reinstated sooner since the pandemic. It was highlighted by the Member that the ward meetings are one but a very important strand of the participation strategy but felt that the strengths of having ward meetings were lost in the document.
When looking at different sections; the Member felt that the agenda should be led by the residents and not the council as it was noted their ward would hold three meetings a year ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Date of Next Meeting
Tuesday 21 February 2023 10am – 12pm
Committee Room 1.
The Committee Members agreed to re-convene for an ad-hoc meeting in January 2023.
The meeting booked after that will be on Tuesday 21 February 10am-12pm Committee Room 1.
The Chair suggested after that the Members could get the report to all Members so they can input additional comments through email.
Meeting terminated at 10:50 hrs