Report number: COU/WS/22/005
Council considered this report, which sought approval for the proposed calendar of meetings for West Suffolk Council in 2022 to 2023.
Councillor Carol Bull, Portfolio Holder for Governance, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, including that there had been an increasing number of meetings cancelled over the past few years due to no items requiring decision. This had been particularly noticeable for full Council meetings.
To try to avoid this situation this year, before producing next year’s calendar the Democratic Services Team had completed some analysis of meetings held and cancelled over recent years and adjusted the meeting dates and frequency to reflect forthcoming expected agenda items. Members noted that some additional reserve dates for Council and Cabinet had been included in the proposed 2022 to 2023 calendar, which would be used for meetings if required. This should see less meetings being cancelled.
No venues had been stipulated on the calendar at present. This was largely due to the COVID-19 situation as was known at the time of preparing the report, together with the need to have the required equipment in place to support meetings at the Mildenhall Hub.
Furthermore, a corporate hybrid meeting project was currently ongoing. The outcome of which would influence future meeting operation, being mindful of current legislation which required public, decision making meetings to be held in person, but noting that the Government was considering a longer-term decision about whether to make provision for councils to be able to meet remotely on a permanent basis. The venues would therefore be reviewed throughout the year and members would be updated accordingly.
Other specific changes proposed to previous years’ calendar of meetings, as set out in section two of the report were also noted.
In response to questions, Council was informed that:
· In future, communication would be had with town councils in advance of the report containing the draft meetings calendar being published on the Council’s website in order to avoid potential meeting clashes, where possible.
· Since the creation of West Suffolk Council, the Licensing and Regulatory Committee had met regularly, but this was largely on an informal basis as no decisions had needed to be made. For 2022 to 2023, four meetings had been scheduled and, as agreed with the Chair of the Committee, these had been arranged as informal briefings as it was not yet known when formal decisions would be required. If a decision was needing to be taken then, with agreement of the Chair, the meeting would be changed to a formal public, decision making meeting.
Decision making meetings of Licensing and Regulatory Sub-Committees, for which membership was drawn for each hearing from the full Committee, were held quite regularly on an ad-hoc basis.
On the motion of Councillor Bull, seconded by Councillor Mike Chester, it was put to the vote and with the vote being unanimous, it was
That the Calendar of Meetings 2022 to 2023, as attached at Appendix A to Report number: COU/WS/22/005, be approved.
(Note: the decision to change the commencement time for Council meetings from 6.30pm to 7pm with effect from the Annual Meeting in May 2022, had previously been agreed for immediate implementation, as recorded under minute 188 above.)