Torbay council should meet in the evening Labour councillors say.
A motion is going before this month’s full Torbay Council meeting calling for all council meetings to be held at 5:30pm, as was agreed in May.
Labour councillor, Darren Cowell said, “It was only in May that the council agreed the calendar of meetings for this year. Now we have an extra meeting at the end of this month starting at 2pm.
“This clearly does not allow the working public access to council meetings. It also presents problems for those of us on the council who work full-time. If we are to encourage people from a cross-section of the community, we have to think about accessibility to meetings. There are far too many meeting scheduled during the day.
“I know that in an effort to allow public access to any issues that are considered controversial or in the public interest, these items will be taken after 5:30pm. Who decides what the public can have access to? Surely all items should be of public interest or we shouldn’t be discussing them?
“And what happens, as is likely this month, if the ‘uninteresting’ items are completed early? This will mean councillors and officers potentially twiddling their fingers until 5:30. This is a ludicrous waste of officer and councillor time – and more importantly – money.”
“A sensible look at the forward business of the council can schedule agendas in a much better way. Maybe it is a result of the apparently sporadic nature of the Policy Development Groups that we have this problem. The last council meeting had a report pack of nearly 500 pages, my guess is the one for this month will be around a quarter of that.
“Better management of the workload will also lead to better scrutiny and accountability of the Mayor and his Executive. That has to be the role of councillors and is indeed their democratic right. How can that happen if councillors are unable to attend?
“When Mayor Oliver came to power he promised greater openness. I hope he and his colleagues will remember that and support this motion.”
The motion reads:
“That this council reaffirms the decision taken at its Annual Meeting held on 24th May 2011 that all meetings of the Full Council commence at 5.30pm as set out in Appendix 1 to the submitted report Calendar of Meetings 2011/2012.”
It will be moved by Cllr Cowell, seconded by Cllr Parrot and has the support so far of the Non Coalition Group (Cllrs Morey, Stockman and Ellery).Other news from Torbay Labour