Two issues here:
1) Lack of Attendance at Meetings
2) Attendance at the start of the meeting, but leaving before completion
I'd read and heard a lot about these issues prior to being a councillor, but I'm now experiencing them first hand.
We have to bear in mind that we are less than two months into the new council.
Issue 1: Lack of Attendance
At the moment this does not seem to a major issue, the meetings so far have been quite well attended. Apologies for absence, can be for various reasons, E.g. holiday, sickness, other commitments/meetings.
There have only been a few instances where lack of attendance has not been made without prior apologies.
I'm guilty here of not attending some of the training sessions set up for new councillors, due to problems with cover at the post office. I have though attended every formal meeting that I am expected to attend.
Issue 2: Leaving Early
This to me is a problem, and I have made may view know at the recent Partnership Scrutiny meeting, and I will repeat it in other meetings if necessary. One incident has wound me up and why I had to say something.
Again there may be valid reasons why people may have to leave a meeting early.
It can be quite difficult to keep track of who coming and going at meetings. All the meetings are open to all councillors even if you are not on the committee. So it is to be expected that these observers can come and go.
What I would expect at the very least is that if a committee member knows they have to leave the meeting at a set time, they should make this know during the Apologies part of the meeting.
Some people do this and this is to commended, this is common business practice and helps the Chair of the meeting and other participants make sure they can manage the meeting effectively. It is also common courtesy. But there are some that do not give apologies and just get up and leave.
We are just getting are act together with members of committees and election of Chairs and Vice-Chairs, so there is some movement with Groups (i.e Political Groups) sending people into meetings just to ensure the groups vote is counted for Chair and Vice-Chair positions. And hence some people have left the meeting quite quickly after this as they would not be on the committee permanently. This is common practice, but come on, I know which committees I'm on and I'm prepared to attend.
Anyway the issue that has made me rant so early on this subject is that during the Partnership Scrutiny meeting on Wednesday, one of the first tasks is to elect the Chair and Vice-Chairs.
Cllr Dr Stuart Anderson was nominated and elected as Chair.
For Vice Chair, Cllr Emlyn Thomas and Cllr William Knightly were both nominated. I had been told the previous evening that Emlyn would be nominated.
The vote was made and I voted for Emlyn as Vice-Chair. Emlyn was elected by 8 -6.
One point to note is that the aim of the meeting was to have presentations from officers on various Partnership projects. There is then to be a meeting on Monday afternoon with the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the scrutiny committees to discuss the forward work programme for the committee, i.e. the Chair and Vice-Chair would represent our views at the next meeting.
The meeting started at 2pm and finished just before 5pm. I had expected this, and had made sure like many others, that I had cover in the Post Office to be able to attend the whole meeting.
Some people had left the meeting already, a few of which where on the committee, it transpired that some of these had a meeting with Highways that they need to attend.
Emlyn Thomas left the meeting with no explanation at just before 3:30pm. I left it about 15 minutes before enquiring through the Chair as to where he had gone, nobody knew.
I find this totally unacceptable. Emlyn was aware prior to the meeting that he would be nominated and had accepted his election. Surely it is not to much to ask that the Vice-Chair is available for the complete meeting, especially as he missed half the presentations and our views.
I haven't had a chance to speak with Emlyn as I would prefer to do this face to face, but if there was a valid reason than we should have been told at the beginning of the meeting.
Some of the other councillors backed my complaint during the meeting. I subsequently apologised to William Knightly (who attended the whole meeting) for wasting my vote.
I'm still learning, very quickly, and I will remember. Lets hope those councillors who have been elected to Chair and Vice-Chairs (and those on the Cabinet) who are additionally remunerated for these roles prove to be worthy of there election.
There are those that I'm sure will, but there are some that in my limited experience have yet to prove themselves.
The attendance and performance of other committee members are accountable to the electorate and this should be considered when planning there attendance at meetings.
End of rant (for now!!!!!!)
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