Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Full Council - October 2019

I seriously considered ringing in sick today, but as it's much more a one-man-show than it once was I figured it would be more stressful trying to find someone to cover for me. So, yeah, I coughed and spluttered and wheezed my whole way through and - as sod's law dictates - because I felt like death warmed over it ended up being a really long meeting.

After item #15 I called a bathroom break for 15 mins or so. That's got to be the worst thing about chairing: you can't just sneak off for the loo, you literally have to halt the whole meeting! Still, it also gave me chance to take some cold and flu meds and get some tea. I was kind of surprised when someone approached me during the break to say it looked like I was just a mouthpiece for the Chief Exec, as I kept taking her advice.

I suppose it must look different from the floor because you do get people leaning in to say stuff a fair bit, but the content really varies. I sit between the Chief Exec (or another senior officer, in her absence) and the monitoring officer; the latter advises on legal points and the minutiae of the constitution. E.g. I conferred with her today on whether I could take an amendment straight away and then return to the substantive debate if it fell, rather than get bogged down in discussing it. The Chief Exec tends to offer suggestions on things like which officer is best to bring in if the presenting speaker can't answer.

Both also keep an eye out for people indicating they want to speak in case I miss someone - moreso today because of the constant coughing fits - and give occasional gentle nudges about timing, especially if a debate is becoming cyclical. At the end of the day though, it's my call, so when debates circle on and on I've only got myself to blame.

You can watch it on webcast HERE.

#1. and #2. Attendance and Apologies for Absence.

#3. Declarations of Interest.

#4. Confirmation of the minutes of full council meetings from 24/09/2019.

#5. Updates on Actions.

#6. Receipt of Petitions.

N/A

#7. Public Question Time.

N/A

#8. Announcements from the Leader and / or the Chief Executive.

#9. Presentation of Awards: Strive for 95+.

Dave Yeowell, executive member for education, presented certificates to three Torfaen pupils with 100% school attendance.

#10. Presentation of 25 Years of Heritage Lottery Funding.

Much of the transformation of Blaenavon into a world heritage site was helped along by heritage lottery funding. Council was shown a short video about the impact it has made.


#11. Changes to Committee Membership.

With Cllr Gauden making the move to the executive there were vacant committee seats to fill.

#12. Annual Performance Report 2018/19.

What it says on the tin!

#13. Torfaen Local Development Plan Monitoring Report 2019.

The LDP is due to be renewed but legally this still needs to be approved by council.

#14. Proposals for a Strategic Development Plan for the Cardiff Capital Region.

This item proved really controversial with many councillors arguing it would be nothing more than another level of bureaucracy, or that it would remove the autonomy of the planning committee. I disagree completely with the latter point - it would just be another aspect to consider, like the LDP (Local Development Plan) and NDF (National Development Framework). Personally, I think it could be something really positive and if we refused to engage we would just be shooting ourselves in the foot. It was eventually approved, anyway.


#15. Torfaen Council's Strategic Equality Plan Annual Report 2018-19.

#16. Motions on Notice.

Cllr Kathy Evans was away today so the first motion was deferred.

Cllr Emma Rapier proposed her motion calling on Torfaen to: support our Trade Union colleagues in demanding a fair and fully funded pay settlement for council staff; call on the WLGA and LGA to make urgent representations accordingly to the UK Government; write to the Chancellor and Secretary of State to call for a pay increase for local government workers to be funded with new money from central government; meet with local NJC union representatives to convey support for the pay claim; and, conntinue to encourage all Council employees to join a trade union.

The motion passed.

#17. Members' Question Time.




#2 wasn't asked as Norma was ill, but the rest all went ahead as scheduled.

#18. Cabinet Decisions from 08/10/2019.

These were noted.

#19. Date and Time of Next Meeting.

10am, December 3rd 2019.

Although I already knew that wasn't quite true. An extraordinary council meeting has been called for November 18th, to further punish me for agreeing to be Chair...



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