Hartlepool political group calls for return of extra questions at council meetings

Councillor Alison Lilley
Councillor Alison Lilley

A POLITICAL group has called for the return of supplementary questions at full council meetings as part of a consultation into a council’s constitution.

Putting Hartlepool First has requested a raft of changes to Hartlepool Borough Council’s constitution including a change in the way chairs of committees are decided and for members of the public to be able to read out their own questions.

All councils are required by law to prepare and keep up to date the constitution which contains information as to the rights of residents and how they can participate in the running of the council.

In May, a committee system replaced the elected mayor who appointed councillors to form a cabinet, where certain decisions were taken.

Now all decisions are now taken either by full council, committees or by an officer under delegated authority and the constitution outlines who has responsibility for decisions as well as how people can become involved.

Under the constitution, members of the public are able to put questions to policy committee chairs and ask two questions at full council, instead of one, but there isn’t any scope for residents to ask follow-up questions, which angered several councillors at the time it was scrapped.

Group leader of Putting Hartlepool First, Alison Lilley, said: “On behalf of Putting Hartlepool First Group we request the return of two supplementary questions at full council, in respect of public questions and questions from elected members, in pursuit of open democracy.

“We also wish to ensure members of the public have the right to read out their own questions as opposed to having them read out by the chief executive.

“We also wish to see the allocation of chairs of committees and forums reflect the true political proportional balance of the council and not are dictated by the wishes of a majority group.

“We also wish to see the allocation of seats on the Fire Authority represent the political proportional balance of the council on a simple mathematical basis of numbers as opposed to the wishes of a political cabal.”

The closing date for comments as part of the consultation was Friday.

The council will consider recommendations to review its constitution at a meeting to be held later this year.