Agenda item

Members' Open Questions

A 45-minute period in which members may ask questions of the Leader, Cabinet Members, the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and opposition group leaders excluding the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee, Licensing and Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing Committees and Governance and Audit Committee.

Minutes:

Question 1

 

Councillor Dilks referred to the motion he put to the last meeting of Council and the question raised during the public open forum in respect of Lincolnshire Police. He stated that his motion had been brought forward seeking additional funding and scrutiny of policing in the area in light of cuts that were taking place and the context of increases in the rate of crime in the area. He said that on the basis of a comment made by Councillor Wootten on additional funding that had been secured when the Police and Crime Commissioner had met with the Home Secretary, his motion had been defeated. He stated that since the meeting it had come to light that the one-off grant was not as high as was indicated at the meeting. Reference was also made to comments in the speech that stated that there would be no cuts to the number of police officers and information received from Lincolnshire Police in response to a Freedom of Information request that indicated that by the end of the year there would be 50 fewer full-time police officer, 23 fewer PCSOs and fewer support staff. Councillor Dilks asked what the Council was going to do, as it had made its decision based on false information and asked for the Council’s representative on the Police and Crime Panel to make a statement of apology and note the latest crime figures, with specific reference being made to incidences of violent and sexual crime.

 

The Deputy Leader responded to the question expressing his concern about the reported crime levels. He stated that it was unfair to comment when Councillor Wootten was not present but that he was aware Councillor Wootten did have a statement that he would provide to the Council. The Police and Crime Commissioner had also contacted the Council to apologise for his part in the misunderstanding. The Deputy Leader suggested that debate could be undertaken by the relevant overview and scrutiny committee with the Police and Crime Commissioner being invited to attend to explain his plans for the area. He added that the Police and Crime Commissioner was speaking to MPs about a new funding formula to ensure that the county got its fair share of funding.

 

Another Member echoed that it was unfair to make comments about a Member when they were not present to respond. Councillor Wootten’s work as the Council’s representative on the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel was praised.  It was hoped that when Councillor Wootten arrived he would be given the opportunity to provide an explanation to Council.

 

Question 2

 

Councillor Selby invited the Deputy Leader to the South Kesteven Charity Cup football match. Matches were scheduled on 13 July 2019 and 20 July 2019. The Deputy Leader stated that he would try and find the opportunity to attend and congratulated Councillor Selby on his work on the initiative, referring to the positive feedback that he had heard.

 

Question 3

 

Councillor Steptoe referred to the change in start time of meetings of full Council from 2pm to 1pm. He asked what consultation had been undertaken with other Members and the public to inform the change and referred to the impact of the 1pm start time on Members who worked full time.

 

This question led to broader discussion and debate. Several members indicated that they had been consulted on the change of start time and referred to conversations in which they had been involved.

 

Those members who were supportive of the change stated that it was helpful for Councillors with caring responsibilities. They also considered it helpful for Members who had commitments in the evening, which meant that they had previously left meetings before the end. Reference was made, in particular, to some of the longer meetings of Council that had begun at 2pm and run until 7pm. It was specifically noted that the Chairman often attended evening engagements while other Members attended meetings of parish councils. Several Members also stated that it was the Chairman’s meeting and it was for the Chairman to determine its start time.

 

Those members who did not support the change had found it harder to arrange time off work and considered it disrupted the whole day rather than just the afternoon. They suggested that wider consultation should be carried out to identify a start time preferred by a majority of Members.

 

The Chairman stated that she had received feedback on the timing of the meeting and had been prepared to try bringing it forward. A comment was made that the start time of full Council could be considered by the Constitution Committee. It was acknowledged that no start time would suit all Members. Members noted that the revised time of 1pm was presented at the annual meeting of the Council and agreed with the programme of meetings for 2019/20. She said that at the end of the year, the start time could be reviewed in the context of evidence gathered through the year on attendance of Members at the meeting.