Call made for greater flexibility to allow more day time council meetings for West Northants

A report stated it is necessary for the council to agree a calendar of meetings to enable its business to be programmed appropriately

Monday, 24th May 2021, 5:39 pm
Councillor John Shephard made the request at the meeting which was held at Northampton Saints' Franklin's Gardens.

A call for greater flexibility to allow councillors to meet during the day time if needed was made at the first annual council meeting of West Northamptonshire Council.

Councillor John Shephard made the request at the meeting on Thursday (May 20) which was held at Northampton Saints' Franklin's Gardens.

He addressed the council when it discussed the item, The Calendar of Meetings for 2021/22.

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A report stated it is necessary for the council to agree a calendar of meetings to enable its business to be programmed appropriately.

The report proposed a draft Calendar of Meetings for 2021/2022 taking into account the committee structure that was approved by the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority at its meeting in March.

The first meeting on the calendar is scheduled for Tuesday (June 1), the Northampton Local Area Planning Committee.

It was recommended council approved the Calendar of Meetings for 2021/2022 which was agreed by members.

Addressing the council before the vote, Cllr Shephard said: "Those of us involved considered, very briefly, the timings of the committee meetings and as a result there is no reference to timings in the constitution.

"There are as we can see on the schedule, a number of committees that do operate, as a fact, the last five I think, in the daytime.

"There is flexibilty already for the local planning committees operating in April in the daytime.

"I simply, I'm not making a particular proposition, chairman and I have discussed this approach with the monitoring officer, and the approach that I suggest, has, I think, has her blessing, which is simply to accept a broad convention that if committees themselves find it more convenient maybe on a one-off basis or an urgent basis or whatever, to hold meetings other than at six o'clock, they be permitted to do so.

"There are clearly benefits for officers if there were some, the odd committee that did meet in the daytime, and as I said, if there was an urgent requirement to have a committee meeting, there would be greater flexibility if a time, other than six o'clock, were available.

"So I just mention that not as, I said, making any particular proposition but would just like to invite members to broadly accept the proposition that if committees themselves, and it would have to be pretty unanimous, but if committees themselves wanted to occasionally move from six o'clock, then there should be no impediment in them being able to do so."

Cllr Ian McCord said: "I am pretty sure everything that councillor Shephard has asked for is already in the constitution.

"I am pretty sure the wording is something along the lines of 'meetings at six o'clock or other such times shall be agreed by the chairman of the committee.

"I'm pretty sure that's in there."

Cllr Jo Guildford said: "Yes, it's in the constitution that there is the flexibility but we want to be an open, transparent authority that engages our residents, who the majority of will be able to make it in the evening so that chairs can they please take that into consideration."

Cllr Suresh Patel said: "I move the report and all the comments have been noted."