To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020.
Members approved the minutes of the previous meeting.
To answer any written public questions about matters which are within the powers and duties of the Committee. The closing date/time for receipt of questions is 10.00am on 11 January 2021.
No public questions were received.
To answer any written members’ questions. The closing date/time for the receipt of questions is 10.00am on 11 January 2021.
No members questions were received.
Written answers to supplementary questions
To consider amending the wording of the following paragraphs:
PROCEDURAL STANDING ORDERS
9. QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS
9.5.3 If the information required is not easily available a written answer will be sent to the questioner and circulated to all Members of the Council. Supplementary written answers will be provided within a reasonable time and published as a supplementary document with the original meeting papers no later than 4 weeks after the meeting.
CABINET PROCEDURE RULES
9. QUESTIONS AT CABINET MEETINGS
9.8.3 If the information required is not easily available, a written answer will be sent to the questioner and circulated to all Cabinet Members. Supplementary written answers will be provided within a reasonable time and published as a supplementary document with the original meeting papers no later than 4 weeks after the meeting.
5.1 The Committee noted that this request had been raised by Cllrs Iain Dobie and Kate Haigh at the previous full Council meeting. Cllr Haigh reminded the Committee that when cabinet members were unable to provide a full verbal response to supplementary questions at Council, a written response was provided as soon as possible after the meeting.
5.2 Whilst the answer to the initial question and verbal answers to supplementary questions were in the public domain, written responses were not. It was felt for transparency and clarity these responses should form part of the public record of the meeting as well. The member was keen for the same procedure to apply to public supplementary questions as well as members’ questions.
5.3 Members discussed the draft wording that had been provided on the agenda front sheet under this item. It was clarified that there were two separate issues in this amendment. The first issue was providing a response to the supplementary questions to the questioner, and this was suggested should be within a reasonable timeframe. The second issue was when any such written answers would be gathered together and published with the original meeting papers, which was suggested to be no later than 4 weeks after the meeting.
5.4 Members challenged the wording of ‘within a reasonable time’ and two suggestions were put forward of within 7 or within 14 days. It was also suggested that if the answer was not going to be provided within the set timeframe, the questioner should be written to and explain when they should expect an answer.
5.5 Officers advised that the 4 week period had been provided as an absolute limit, and not as a target. It would always be expected that officers would work as quickly as possible to provide written answers and publish the information; the 4 weeks simply allowed time after the questioners had received their answer to collate everything ready for publication.
5.6 It was added that this circumstance was not the norm, where cabinet need to provide written response instead, it tended to occur on matters of complexity that portfolio holders needed to consult officers on or to gather extensive data that could not be provided instantly.
5.7 Listening to the discussion, the Chair put forward the following suggestion:
Supplementary written answers will be
5.8 The assumption being that the publication of the document would be as quickly as possible after the 14 days. 7 members voted for the amendment and 1 member voted against.
5.9 The Committee confirmed they would like a similar approach to be taken for public questions as well. The questioner would be advised at the meeting when to expect their response if it cannot be provided on the day.
RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO THE COUNCIL that the proposed amendment outlined above be made to the Constitution at ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the attached report.
Members noted the suggested changes to the Constitution.