Agenda and minutes
Venue: Town Hall, Watford
Contact: Pat Thornton
Apologies for absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Disclosure of Interest (if any)
There were no disclosures of interest.
Minutes of previous meeting
To sign the minutes if the meeting held on 23rd February 2013
The minutes of the meeting held on 23 February 2012 were submitted and signed.
Report of the Head of Legal & Property
The Working Party received a report of the Head of Legal & Property.
The Group Leaders and the two independent councillors had been asked whether they wished to bring forward any particular concerns or items for review at this meeting. Requests had been made for the Working Party to look at the operation of the budget debate and time for questions on the Mayors Report at Council meetings.
In addition officers were asking the Working Party to consider some changes to the content of the agenda for Annual Council and Budget Setting Council.
The Chair referred to the new timing systeminstalled in the Chamber which indicated when councillors had run out of speaking time. This had resulted in speaking times being more strictly adhered to than in the past and as a result the Mayor had run out of time when presenting her speech to Budget Council. He considered that it was appropriate for the whole of the Mayor’s Budget speech to be heard and that as the convention was for Groups Leaders to be allowed double the standard time to respond (i.e. ten minutes) it would seem fair to increase the Mayor’s speaking time from ten to twenty minutes.
Other Members of the Working Party endorsed this view and it was therefore AGREED that the length of the Mayor’s speech at Budget Council be increased to twenty minutes and that the convention to allow Group Leaders to speak in response for up to ten minutes at this meeting be formally adopted as a Procedure Rule in the Constitution.
There was a convention at Budget Council that any amendments were debated together and voted for en bloc at the end of the debate. The Working Party was asked to consider whether this practice should be more generally adopted for any motion where there were multiple amendments.
Councillor Rackett commented that Members should be encouraged to put down amendments at the earliest opportunity and include them all as part of the debate.
Other Working Party Members endorsed this view and it was therefore AGREED that the practice of debating all amendments together and voted for en bloc at the end of the debate be included in the Constitution
Budget Report higher up the agenda
A request had also been received to put the Budget report higher up the agenda to reduce the risk of running out of time and the need to suspend Procedures Rules to continue after 10.30pm.
Councillor Rackett advised that in some authorities the budget was dealt with at a dedicated meeting and maybe this was a possibility for Watford. The Head of Legal & Property explained that the budget at Watford had to be set by 8th February because of the elected mayoral arrangements. The budget Council meeting was therefore held at the end of January; the next Ordinary meeting took place in March.
Councillor Sharpe suggested that a time limit be put on Mayor’s Questions at Budget Council. The Head of ... view the full minutes text for item 4.