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Council meetings set to become more accessible

30 August 2017

A pilot scheme is set to be launched in Sheffield which aims to make Council meetings more accessible.

Sheffield City Council is starting with changes to its monthly full Council meeting, held on the first Wednesday of the month, which is where major issues affecting the city are debated and the budget is set.

From September, the meeting times will be changed and made shorter so that more people are able to attend.

On Wednesday, 6 September, full Council will start at 5pm and finish at 8pm. The first hour will still be available for petitions and questions from members of the public as currently.

The meetings will run to the new times until April 2018. This is a change to the previous start time of 2pm, with meetings regularly lasting for more than 4.5 hours.

Councillor Olivia Blake, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council and chair of the cross-party working group responsible for the scheme, said: “We want people to have the opportunity to access the democratic process, so we’re making changes so more people can get involved.

“We established a cross-party working group to look at how we can do things differently Not everyone is able to attend meetings in the working day or stay for the whole debate and we want to find a way to make the meetings more accessible and engaging to the public. The trial changes to the Full Council meetings are the start of this and we want the public’s feedback on them.”

The cross-party working group (made up of councillors from all political parties) will be reviewing how full Council meetings are working to make sure the changes are effective. It will also be looking at other aspects of decision making and public engagement, which includes:

  • Creating a route map to help people understand the different ways to ask questions and raise issues with the Council
  • Reviewing the process for petitions and exploring different ways that the public might ask questions of decision makers
  • Options for webcasting and audio recording
  • Improving communication and engagement
  • Consultation – as part of the work to review Council decision making and public engagement with the decision making process.

Taking part in full Council meetings:
Members of the public have the chance to put questions to Cabinet Members at full Council meetings.

People are asked to email these questions in advance to committee@sheffield.gov.uk. People can also attend in person by coming to the Town Hall and providing us with details of the question they’d like to ask by 4.45pm on the day of the Council meeting.

More information about petitions and asking questions at full Council is available online: http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=154

Contacting your councillors
People can contact their local councillors in many different ways including at a local surgery or in writing. More information is online at: http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1