Agenda item

Review of Council Meeting Structure EXE24-026

Reporting Person – Gareth John


The Leader of the Council, Councillor Barker, introduced the paper which proposed a new Council meeting structure following a review of existing arrangements undertaken by Officers in partnership with a number of stakeholders including the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (CfGS).  The Leader explained that the proposals would provide greater openness and transparency of the decision-making process by increasing the number of meetings held in public, and would allow all Members to take a role in scrutinising the work of the Council.  No change would be made to the current Strong Leader Model operated by the Council.  It was proposed to rationalise the number of ‘closed’ meetings, such as Working Groups, Panels and Boards.  To improve the scrutiny function of the Council, it was proposed to reconstitute the Overview and Scrutiny Committee as three, directorate-specific, Scrutiny Committees.  It was noted that the proposed Scrutiny Committees would be able to establish Task and Finish Groups for undertaking a time-defined piece of work.  Further, it was proposed to rename the Standards and Audit Committee to the Audit and Governance Committee reflecting the important work of the Committee in the audit and governance of the Council.  A requirement would be included that Councillors received appropriate training to sit on the Audit and Governance Committee.  The Leader also set out plans for a Chair’s Group and an Employment Committee.

The Executive was advised that Members had been consulted on the proposals through workshops and briefing sessions.  It was noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered the proposals at its meeting on 18 March 2024.

Regarding Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) applications for funding below £10,000 on a neighbourhood basis, it was confirmed that the current requirement for Ward Councillors to be in agreement of such applications before submission to the Council would remain.

The Executive welcomed the proposed reduction in the number of ‘closed’ meetings which would increase openness and transparency.  The number of face to face meetings proposed was raised, and the environmental benefits of online meetings were highlighted.  It was noted that non-voting participants could be able to participate virtually.  It was commented that planned agendas could benefit the three Scrutiny Committees.  Concern was raised at the timescale to produce a revised Constitution by 20 May 2024.  It was also commented that the Chair’s Group should include Vice Chairs.  The Executive was keen to find an alternative way to take forward the benefits of the work of the Greener Woking Working Group, which had been a valued group.

The Executive was supportive of the proposals which would put in place a new Council meeting structure that would be more efficient, effective and use staff resources in the best way possible.  Officers were thanked for their hard work on putting together the proposals.  The Review of Council Meeting Structure report would be considered by Council at its meeting on 28 March 2024.


That comments of the Executive on the proposed new structure be submitted to Council.

Reason:   For the Executive to review and provide commentary on the proposed new meeting structure.

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