Agenda item

Motion from Councillor Peter Topping

This Council agrees that all budget holding “lead cabinet members” should hold at least 3 public meetings per calendar year.


The following motion was LOST:


This Council agrees that all budget holding “lead cabinet members” should hold at least 3 public meetings per calendar year.


Councillor Peter Topping moved and Councillor Deborah Roberts seconded the following motion:


“This Council agrees that all budget holding “lead cabinet members” should hold at least 3 public meetings per calendar year.”


Councillor Topping reminded the Council that a similar motion had been presented by Councillor Bridget Smith in November 2017 and asked that consideration be given, as part of the transformation agenda, to holding Lead Cabinet Member meetings.  He spoke of the perceived benefits of the previous portfolio holder meetings which had enabled more informal engagement and dialogue between individual Cabinet members and opposition members and expressed the view that if decisions were only taken in formal Cabinet meetings this might potentially lead to a more polarised Council.


Councillor Deborah Roberts, in seconding the motion, suggested that the level of public engagement in this meeting might be regarded as indicating that the public felt that the Council was not listening to them.  She believed that it was important that the public had the opportunity to engage with the individual Cabinet Member responsible for a particular function and was of the view that the previous portfolio holder meetings had provided such an opportunity.


Councillor Bridget Smith commented that her previous motion had highlighted the lack of consistency in terms of the holding of the former portfolio holder meetings, with some portfolio holders failing to hold meetings at all.  She noted that portfolio holder meetings had  been discontinued in favour of decisions being taken collectively at Cabinet meetings, which now met monthly and Cabinet members also attended Scrutiny and Overview Committee meetings which pre-scrutinised Cabinet decisions.  Councillor Bridget Smith did not accept the suggestion that decision makers were not accessible to the public, noting that the public had been able to attend this meeting, to ask questions and receive responses.  She referred to previous criticism that the number of meetings had increased since May 2018, but observed that this motion, if approved, would further increase the number of meetings. Councillor Bridget Smith concluded by indicating that she would be looking at the structure and organisation of the Cabinet in the light of the organisational review and added that Cabinet members were available to meet with any member of the Council outside of formal meetings.


Councillor Heather Williams commented that reports were not received from individual Cabinet members at Council meetings and there was accordingly not an opportunity to question them.  Moreover, she pointed out that individual decisions were taken outside of meetings by Cabinet members under delegated powers.  She argued that such decisions should be taken at public meetings.


Councillor Peter Topping summed up and called for the Council to support his motion.


Upon being put to the vote, votes were cast as follows:


In favour (14):


Councillors Ruth Betson, Dr. Shrobona Bhattacharya, Anna Bradnam, Tom Bygott, Grenville Chamberlain, Graham Cone, Sue Ellington, Jose Hales, Mark Howell, Deborah Roberts, Peter Topping, Bunty Waters, Heather Williams and Nick Wright.


(Note: Councillor Anna Bradnam indicated after the meeting that she inadvertently voted in favour of the motion and had intended to vote against it).


Against (22):


Councillors Henry Batchelor, John Batchelor, Dr. Martin Cahn, Dr. Claire Daunton, Dr. Douglas de Lacey, Clare Delderfield, Neil Gough, Bill Handley, Geoff Harvey, Dr. Tumi Hawkins, Pippa Heylings, Steve Hunt, Peter McDonald, Brian Milnes, Dawn Percival, Judith Rippeth, Nick Sample, Bridget Smith, Hazel Smith, Dr. Ian Sollom, John Williams and Eileen Wilson.



Abstain (0):



The Chairman declared the motion to be LOST.