Agenda item

Items for discussion from Cllr Jeremy Hilton

1.    Time limit to debate Notices of Motion.


2.    Annual Election of Leader of Council.


62.1  Time limit to debate Notices of Motion


62.1.1   Cllr Jeremy Hilton informed the committee that the Liberal Democrat Group members on the Constitution Committee, were proposing the removal of the time limit of a maximum of 30 minutes rule for each political group to consider motions at full council.  He commented that the present rules meant that it was often the case that there was not enough time to debate the motions, thus denying backbench councillors the opportunity to participate.


62.1.2   He explained that the effect of the proposed amendments would be to restrict the total time for debating motions to three hours, an increase of one hour from the present constitutional limit.


62.1.3   The chairman indicated that the Conservative Group understood the reasons behind the proposed amendment to remove the 30 minute rule for each political group to consider motions.  He recognised that some debates had been curtailed, when an extra 10 or 15 minutes would have enabled all members to participate who wished to, effectively completing the debate.


62.1.4   The chairman stated that the Conservative Group was not supportive of increasing the time spent considering motions to three hours, and he felt it should remain at two.  He suggested that once the two hours was up the Chairman of Council could make a judgement on whether extra time was needed to complete the debate. 


62.1.5   The chairman emphasised that the extension should only be used to complete the debate of that particular motion and not be used to debate a new motion.  He suggested that increasing the overall time spent debating motions could be reviewed again in six months time. 


62.1.6   Some members of the committee raised the point that there would be an opportunity for the political group leaders to consider the council agenda beforehand at their group leaders’ meeting.  Group leaders in consultation with the Chairman of Council would be able to determine the motions which needed the most debate, and agree an informal time period for each motion.


62.1.7   On being put to vote the committee resolved:


                                      TO RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL that the following amendments to the council’s Constitution be approved:


1)     Under part 4 – Notices of Motion – Section 11.2.2 –


Unless the Chairperson, in consultation with Group Leaders, decides otherwise, subject to Procedural Standing Order 11.8, there will be no time restrictions on motions from each political group (for the purposes of this Procedural Standing Order 11.2.2 only, all independent Councillors are considered as a political group) shall be considered by full council for up to a maximum of 30 minutes on the day of a meeting.  Immediately after the end of the 30 minute period debate the proposer of the original motion then under debate may choose whether the motion be put or withdrawn (the consent of the seconder and full Council not being required in these circumstances) and if he or she decides that the motion be put, he or she shall first have the right of reply which shall be limited to 3 minutes; 


62.1.8   The committee was not in support of amending Procedural Standing Order 11.8, to increase the total time period spent on motions to three hours.


62.1.9   The committee was not in support of amending 13.5 of the Council’s Constitution to introduce a 20 minute limit to debate amendments.


62.2       Annual Election of Leader of Council


62.2.1   Cllr Jeremy Hilton explained that the Liberal Democrat Group members on the Constitution Committee were proposing amendments to the Constitution, for the Leader of Council to be appointed annually at the annual meeting of the council, therefore reducing the current four year term of office, to an annual one.


62.2.2   Cllr Hilton informed members that this would improve democracy on the county council and ensure that the post of Leader of the Council was treated the same as other elected member positions.  Cllr Paul Hodgkinson explained that the amendment would mean that the Leader of Council would remain both effective and accountable. 


62.2.3   Some members made reference to the mechanisms already in place for the removal of the Leader of Council, if there was a need to.  Those members felt that there were benefits to the council and council services from the stability of a four year term of office of the Leader of Council, and consequently were strongly against the proposed amendment.


62.2.4   One member informed the committee that he could appreciate both sides of the argument and suggested that research should be done into what other local authorities did.  Cllr Hilton commented that at Gloucester City Council the Leader of Council was elected annually.


62.2.5   On being put to the vote, the committee did not support amending the council’s Constitution to reduce the current four year term of office of the Leader of Council to an annual term.


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