Swindon AdvertiserChanges to question time proposed (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Changes to question time proposed

Swindon Advertiser: Coun David Renard Coun David Renard

THE council is set to change the rules surrounding public question time at meetings in order to prevent them from getting out of control.

It follows a number of meetings in which the question time session, meant to last only 15 minutes, has overrun significantly, most notably at the last full council meeting in April when there was almost an hour of questions.

Concerns have been raised that if this is allowed to continue then the issues to be discussed at the meeting will not get the attention required.

If the changes are approved, there will be an emphasis on trying to get members of the public to write in with their question in advance, allowing members to find an answer, while also increasing the amount of time available to others who want to ask a question.

Another change will be to limit each questioner to one supplementary question, regardless of how many normal questions there are.

Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “Public Question Times have been getting longer for a time now and something needed to be changed.

“While it is important the public are given the opportunity to engage with the cabinet, the point of the meetings is for members to debate important issues.

“As anyone who was present in April will have seen, the meeting was dominated by Public Question Time which really shouldn’t be the case.

“One of the difficulties is a lot of people tend to ask questions which require details the member doesn’t have at that point so is forced to respond with written answers.”

It is hoped if people send in their questions it will allow the session to be more free flowing and written questions will be given precedence at the meeting.

Coun Renard said: “It is very important that people have the chance to speak with the cabinet but it is important that it is done in a sensible way.”

The changes will be discussed at Friday’s council meeting, when the new mayor, Teresa Page, will be formally elected.

There is also a proposal for the answers to written questions to be put online after the meeting so the public will be able to view them.

Comments (13)

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7:39am Mon 2 Jun 14

Always Grumpy says...

Afraid of what questions people might ask?
Written ones will no doubt be ignored (usual council practice) if they are the slightest bit controversial.
Afraid of what questions people might ask? Written ones will no doubt be ignored (usual council practice) if they are the slightest bit controversial. Always Grumpy
  • Score: 16

9:01am Mon 2 Jun 14

anotherimigrant says...

So the LIAR Renard has decided that the public can come to the meetings but must remain mute or be thrown out.....outrageous..
..

I cant even get a meeting with the LIAR as he cant see the point in further discussing how the council faked up our conveyance and how much trouble they have caused as a result of it, but the LIAR Reynard doesn't want to discuses that.....


Obviously he said he would, then he said he wouldn't... So please don't take anything this LIAR says as being truthful, check him out if he tells you today is Monday....

“While it is important the public are given the opportunity to engage with the cabinet, the point of the meetings is for members to debate important issues..

So when do we get to have our say then?

When do we get to ask our elected(sic) representatives who we pay for, any questions?

Only by writing in to these scumbags who say they represent what we the people want...... I don't think so.......

So can we write in and ask about the thousands , nay millions that was lost when the Brunel was sold, and ALL the money was lost in a pension scam, can we ask about that........no......


Can we ask about the Wi-Fi fiasco that cost us squillions and get a paper trail on the money, and who got paid what in hard cash.......no...

Can we ask about the yet un-reported but soon to be told fiasco over the eco-housing scam,.........no....
....


Oh well i.ll just keep writing on here, it,s more fun and the readers and contributors are so nice to each other...:)
So the LIAR Renard has decided that the public can come to the meetings but must remain mute or be thrown out.....outrageous.. .. I cant even get a meeting with the LIAR as he cant see the point in further discussing how the council faked up our conveyance and how much trouble they have caused as a result of it, but the LIAR Reynard doesn't want to discuses that..... Obviously he said he would, then he said he wouldn't... So please don't take anything this LIAR says as being truthful, check him out if he tells you today is Monday.... “While it is important the public are given the opportunity to engage with the cabinet, the point of the meetings is for members to debate important issues.. So when do we get to have our say then? When do we get to ask our elected(sic) representatives who we pay for, any questions? Only by writing in to these scumbags who say they represent what we the people want...... I don't think so....... So can we write in and ask about the thousands , nay millions that was lost when the Brunel was sold, and ALL the money was lost in a pension scam, can we ask about that........no...... Can we ask about the Wi-Fi fiasco that cost us squillions and get a paper trail on the money, and who got paid what in hard cash.......no... Can we ask about the yet un-reported but soon to be told fiasco over the eco-housing scam,.........no.... .... Oh well i.ll just keep writing on here, it,s more fun and the readers and contributors are so nice to each other...:) anotherimigrant
  • Score: 8

9:54am Mon 2 Jun 14

stratton man says...

If only written questions are allowed it enables Councillors to prepare carefully scripted answers following the party line.If the current crop of councillors are too dim to think on their feet they should do the decent thing and resign.Also who chooses the questions which will be replied too.Plenty of oppotunity to leave out the embarrassing ones.
If only written questions are allowed it enables Councillors to prepare carefully scripted answers following the party line.If the current crop of councillors are too dim to think on their feet they should do the decent thing and resign.Also who chooses the questions which will be replied too.Plenty of oppotunity to leave out the embarrassing ones. stratton man
  • Score: 8

12:38pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Al Smith says...

I don't recall seeing this in their election material.

Squealer didn't mention this in his proclamations of how great the Conservatives (or should that be Comservatives) are and how we should go out and vote for them.

Renard should be up for re-election next year, sadly I doubt the people of Haydon Wick will remember or care about this. As the saying goes - people get the government they deserve.
I don't recall seeing this in their election material. Squealer didn't mention this in his proclamations of how great the Conservatives (or should that be Comservatives) are and how we should go out and vote for them. Renard should be up for re-election next year, sadly I doubt the people of Haydon Wick will remember or care about this. As the saying goes - people get the government they deserve. Al Smith
  • Score: 5

12:49pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Morsey says...

Need to get the other 65% of eligible voters out to put a cross on the voting slip ... it always makes me wonder what the TRUE opinions would be of certain administrations ... but, so many cannot be arsed to get off their chairs!

When was the last Council voted in with an actual majority of eligible electors ... I don't think it has happened in my lifetime, but maybe someone has the data to hand, as they invariably do? And, I don't mean a few per cent, but 51%+ ... on their own and not backed up with coalition allies.
Need to get the other 65% of eligible voters out to put a cross on the voting slip ... it always makes me wonder what the TRUE opinions would be of certain administrations ... but, so many cannot be arsed to get off their chairs! When was the last Council voted in with an actual majority of eligible electors ... I don't think it has happened in my lifetime, but maybe someone has the data to hand, as they invariably do? And, I don't mean a few per cent, but 51%+ ... on their own and not backed up with coalition allies. Morsey
  • Score: 0

1:23pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Davey Gravey says...

Jeez. Another way for our shameful council to swerve the public.
Jeez. Another way for our shameful council to swerve the public. Davey Gravey
  • Score: 7

1:29pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Ollie Dognacky says...

Swindon Borough Conskool don't wish to engage with the public.
Not even for 1 hour
Swindon Borough Conskool don't wish to engage with the public. Not even for 1 hour Ollie Dognacky
  • Score: 3

1:43pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Talis Kimberley says...

This is a very worrying development for anyone who thinks elected representatives should be visibly answerable to their electors. Of course some questions cannot be answered at once, some will require research before a proper response is made; that's understood.

Does the Council not think that local peoples' engagement in the politics of their Borough is a good thing? Is their response to ordinary people, who are prepared to turn up, muster their courage, and speak out, to silence them? Does that serve democracy? Does that look like transparency and integrity?

I suggest that if members of the public are prepared to spend their time attending meetings and speaking at them - without allowances, of course - then the current system, which recognises their right to do so, should be improved upon, not dismantled.

Including what's asked and what's replied in the minutes would be a start.

Swindon's voters, keep speaking out!

Talis Kimberley
Swindon Area Green Party
This is a very worrying development for anyone who thinks elected representatives should be visibly answerable to their electors. Of course some questions cannot be answered at once, some will require research before a proper response is made; that's understood. Does the Council not think that local peoples' engagement in the politics of their Borough is a good thing? Is their response to ordinary people, who are prepared to turn up, muster their courage, and speak out, to silence them? Does that serve democracy? Does that look like transparency and integrity? I suggest that if members of the public are prepared to spend their time attending meetings and speaking at them - without allowances, of course - then the current system, which recognises their right to do so, should be improved upon, not dismantled. Including what's asked and what's replied in the minutes would be a start. Swindon's voters, keep speaking out! Talis Kimberley Swindon Area Green Party Talis Kimberley
  • Score: 7

1:43pm Mon 2 Jun 14

house on the hill says...

Al Smith wrote:
I don't recall seeing this in their election material.

Squealer didn't mention this in his proclamations of how great the Conservatives (or should that be Comservatives) are and how we should go out and vote for them.

Renard should be up for re-election next year, sadly I doubt the people of Haydon Wick will remember or care about this. As the saying goes - people get the government they deserve.
I am sure there will be many things done by all sides that wasn't in their election manual. That's why democracy is a joke, you vote them in on one agenda and as soon as they are elected they can just tear it up and do what they want! That's always assuming that the voter knows what is in the agenda in the first place which i guarantee you most wont.

A chimpanzee's tea party will always get out of control which is akin to any council meeting. As you say we get the Govt we deserve so we shouldn't complain.
[quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: I don't recall seeing this in their election material. Squealer didn't mention this in his proclamations of how great the Conservatives (or should that be Comservatives) are and how we should go out and vote for them. Renard should be up for re-election next year, sadly I doubt the people of Haydon Wick will remember or care about this. As the saying goes - people get the government they deserve.[/p][/quote]I am sure there will be many things done by all sides that wasn't in their election manual. That's why democracy is a joke, you vote them in on one agenda and as soon as they are elected they can just tear it up and do what they want! That's always assuming that the voter knows what is in the agenda in the first place which i guarantee you most wont. A chimpanzee's tea party will always get out of control which is akin to any council meeting. As you say we get the Govt we deserve so we shouldn't complain. house on the hill
  • Score: 4

1:52pm Mon 2 Jun 14

house on the hill says...

And I really can't believe they have agreed to extend their contract with Crapita! Anyone below the rank of yes man/woman managers in the council will tell you the partnership is a disaster, with Crapita subcontracting even further and no one knowing who actually is responsible for anything and the cost of managing them and putting right all their mistakes far exceeds any perceived savings. Add to that the hundreds of jobs lost to Swindon in their offsite call and processing centres which will continue to happen (using our council tax money to help the economies of other towns!), so in reality Swindon as a town loses out far more than the council thinks they save. Nearly 50% of other councils who had a private sector partners have got rid of them as they woke up and smelled the ****, but then what do we expect of this lot! Strange that the people in the council who originally negotiated the contract ended up working for Capita, anyone smell a rat?
And I really can't believe they have agreed to extend their contract with Crapita! Anyone below the rank of yes man/woman managers in the council will tell you the partnership is a disaster, with Crapita subcontracting even further and no one knowing who actually is responsible for anything and the cost of managing them and putting right all their mistakes far exceeds any perceived savings. Add to that the hundreds of jobs lost to Swindon in their offsite call and processing centres which will continue to happen (using our council tax money to help the economies of other towns!), so in reality Swindon as a town loses out far more than the council thinks they save. Nearly 50% of other councils who had a private sector partners have got rid of them as they woke up and smelled the ****, but then what do we expect of this lot! Strange that the people in the council who originally negotiated the contract ended up working for Capita, anyone smell a rat? house on the hill
  • Score: 7

6:23pm Mon 2 Jun 14

OldTown90 says...

Coun. Renard - “As anyone who was present in April will have seen, the meeting was dominated by Public Question Time which really shouldn’t be the case."

At that meeting wasn't it put to a vote as to whether Public Question time should be extended and didn't Coun Renard along with his Cabinet vote to extend the time? So why the change of heart??

Is the real issue here that this administration does not like being held accountable and scrutinised because it lays bare ineptitude, incompetence, deceit and deception?

Is it because it shows that not only is this administration not content with taking Swindon down the route which would appear to be heading towards financial bankruptcy that they are now fast approaching the destination of moral bankruptcy?

Shameful...
Coun. Renard - “As anyone who was present in April will have seen, the meeting was dominated by Public Question Time which really shouldn’t be the case." At that meeting wasn't it put to a vote as to whether Public Question time should be extended and didn't Coun Renard along with his Cabinet vote to extend the time? So why the change of heart?? Is the real issue here that this administration does not like being held accountable and scrutinised because it lays bare ineptitude, incompetence, deceit and deception? Is it because it shows that not only is this administration not content with taking Swindon down the route which would appear to be heading towards financial bankruptcy that they are now fast approaching the destination of moral bankruptcy? Shameful... OldTown90
  • Score: 7

8:02pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Chantelle Smith says...

Councillor Renard said: “While it is important the public are given the opportunity to engage with the cabinet, the point of the meetings is for members to debate important issues."

I find it deeply disturbing that the leader of Swindon Borough Council believes the views of the residents of the Borough to be unimportant as this quote strongly seems to employ.

Our councillors should be aware that their job is not to hand down edicts from on high but to listen to the people they are supposed to be representing and working for. How can they do that effectively if they do not allow them the question time, a point in the meeting where a Swindon resident can stand up not only in front of Council but also in front of fellow residents and ask questions of the people they elected in a clear, open and public manner.

Any credibility the Council still has in appearing to work for the people of Swindon Borough would be swept away. If a question is asked in public without prior interference from Council then Swindon residents will at least know they are not being misrepresented or silenced because their questions are deems awkward or embarrassing. If the proposed changes go ahead then we will have absolutely no guarantee that we will be heard by the people who are supposed to be working for us, for our town and its surrounding areas.

If the Council are having problems discussing all agenda items and question time from the public then it would be better for them to take a new approach WITHOUT diminishing residents' abilities to ask questions directly to the Council in a public way without threat of interference. That could take the form of another meeting specifically for public questions or finding a way to rearrange the current structure of the meetings to cope with the increase of interaction from the public (which should be seen as a good thing, a thirst for democratic governance, rather than an embarrassment and an annoyance).

If they really want to represent Swindon residents properly, then I am certain the Council can come up with a better solution than one that threatens to curtail the interest and interaction of the public with the Council at meetings.
Councillor Renard said: “While it is important the public are given the opportunity to engage with the cabinet, the point of the meetings is for members to debate important issues." I find it deeply disturbing that the leader of Swindon Borough Council believes the views of the residents of the Borough to be unimportant as this quote strongly seems to employ. Our councillors should be aware that their job is not to hand down edicts from on high but to listen to the people they are supposed to be representing and working for. How can they do that effectively if they do not allow them the question time, a point in the meeting where a Swindon resident can stand up not only in front of Council but also in front of fellow residents and ask questions of the people they elected in a clear, open and public manner. Any credibility the Council still has in appearing to work for the people of Swindon Borough would be swept away. If a question is asked in public without prior interference from Council then Swindon residents will at least know they are not being misrepresented or silenced because their questions are deems awkward or embarrassing. If the proposed changes go ahead then we will have absolutely no guarantee that we will be heard by the people who are supposed to be working for us, for our town and its surrounding areas. If the Council are having problems discussing all agenda items and question time from the public then it would be better for them to take a new approach WITHOUT diminishing residents' abilities to ask questions directly to the Council in a public way without threat of interference. That could take the form of another meeting specifically for public questions or finding a way to rearrange the current structure of the meetings to cope with the increase of interaction from the public (which should be seen as a good thing, a thirst for democratic governance, rather than an embarrassment and an annoyance). If they really want to represent Swindon residents properly, then I am certain the Council can come up with a better solution than one that threatens to curtail the interest and interaction of the public with the Council at meetings. Chantelle Smith
  • Score: 6

11:09pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Eastern Badger says...

Disgraceful and show us their opinion of being called to account for their actions. As others have said people get the representatives they deserve as most don't vote. Sections of the local press appear to be a PR agency for the council - fair enough they fill pages so easy 'copy' but please question their motives occasionally - journalism didn't die out completely did it?
Disgraceful and show us their opinion of being called to account for their actions. As others have said people get the representatives they deserve as most don't vote. Sections of the local press appear to be a PR agency for the council - fair enough they fill pages so easy 'copy' but please question their motives occasionally - journalism didn't die out completely did it? Eastern Badger
  • Score: 0

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