Question time - call for changes to the way public can grill Hartlepool council chiefs
Councillors from several political parties have backed reviewing public question procedure at full council meetings.
It came after a report was brought to a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council noting changes to procedural rules of the council constitution, following a comprehensive review of the constitution approved by councillors in March.
Labour’s Coun Paddy Brown initially called for the report to be deferred to give councillors more time to review it, noting there had been no changes to public questions and supplementary questions at full council meetings.
Chief executive Gill Alexander said the report just dealt with technical issues in the constitution after previous changes were approved in March, adding further changes would go to the council constitution committee.
Council leader Coun Shane Moore, from the Independent Union and Conservative coalition, said changes to public questions were something he was passionate about and requested they be considered at the ‘earliest opportunity’.
He said: “This report just details technical changes to the constitution.
“I’m quite happy that Coun Brown has brought up potential changes to public and supplementary questions, they know it’s something that I have been passionate about for a long time.
“They are probably also aware that I have already put feelers out to have things changed.
“I would formally request that the constitution committee at the earliest convenience do look at public questions and we consider changes to it and also to those of supplementary questions.”
Labour’s Coun Dave Hunter said he, and the public, wanted a review of the procedure.
He said: “We can get these supplementary and public questions in there that the public have been asking for for a substantial amount of time.”
The council’s constitution currently states during a period of 30 minutes, or a longer period at the discretion of the chair, residents of Hartlepool may raise questions of chairs of committees at ordinary meetings of full council.
A question may only be asked if notice has been given in writing or by email to the chief executive no later than noon on the Thursday of the week before the meeting.
A chair of the committee then has a maximum of five minutes to respond to a question.