South Tyneside public could be allowed to quiz town hall chiefs under 'question time' plans

Voters in South Tyneside could be given the chance to grill town hall chiefs directly if plans are given the green light.

Proposals to establish a “public question time” at full meetings of South Tyneside Council will be put to the vote next week.

Full meetings of the local authority typically invite all 54 elected councillors to vote on policies and debate key issues in the borough.

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And while members of the public can ask questions, the council’s constitution dictates these must be submitted in writing “as there will be no opportunity to ask the question in person.”

South Shields Town HallSouth Shields Town Hall
South Shields Town Hall
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Under current council rules, public questions are printed on the council agenda and a written response is provided after the meeting within seven days – although a verbal response can be given at council meetings in urgent cases.

New proposals from the local authority’s independent and Conservative opposition councillors would allocate a 30-minute slot at full council meetings for public questions.

This would allow members of the public to ask questions verbally to the council leader, deputy leader or cabinet members – and receive response at the same meeting.

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If the motion is approved, members of the public would be encouraged to advise the council’s chief executive of the nature of their question in writing at least ten working days before.

The questions would have to relate to council activities and decisions and “something the council can influence”.

Anything considered “defamatory, frivolous or offensive in any way” would be ruled out.

The opposition motion, entitled Public Question Time, goes on to say: “South Tyneside Council is committed to the principles of honest, open and accountable government and encourages community participation in the business of council.

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“Establishing a public question time is a means by which the public can seek verbal responses at the time of asking from South Tyneside Council about issues affecting local government that are of concern to them.

“Establishing a public question time assists the public to be better informed about the governing of South Tyneside Council, and it provides South Tyneside Council with a mechanism to identify issues of importance in their community.”

The motion will be debated at the next meeting of full council on Monday, February 28.

The meeting will start at 6pm at South Shields Town Hall and for more information or to watch online visit:

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