Shropshire Star

Councillors issued pleas to attend meetings

A senior Powys councillor has issued a plea asking colleagues to ensure they attend future committee meetings.

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Powys County Council

At Powys County Council’s annual meeting on Thursday, May 16, councillors shared out the seats on the various council committees – as well as appointing chairmen.

Committee seats are shared out depending on how many councillors are in a group – on a proportional basis, along with posts as chairs of scrutiny committees.

Non-aligned councillors are not automatically put on committees – they can be offered seats if other groups have vacancies – but are under no obligation to take them up.

Meeting attendance has been an issue raised by the Conservative group over the last 18 months as its members were unhappy to see the number of councillors on committees drop last year.

This followed the slimming down of the council in May 2022 from 73 to 68 councillors.

Some councillors are also unable to attend regular daytime meetings due to their work commitments.

Conservative Councillor Lucy Roberts was re-appointed to her role as chairman of the Employment and Appeals committee.

This year the committee has been busy interviewing candidates for the roles of directors and heads of service as the council expands its top brass.

Councillor Roberts said: “I want to draw attention that it’s so important that members of these committees and sub-committees attend meetings because there are times when we’ve really struggled.

“In particular on the employment committee, interviews during the day can’t happen unless we have enough members able to attend those meetings.”

Council chairman, Councillor Jonathan Wilkinson said: “That’s a point well-made and applies to every committee to get the best from them.”

The emergence of the new Powys Independents group earlier this month as the official opposition has caused a re-calculation for the numbers sitting and chairing committee meetings.

Under the rules the Liberal Democrats, Powys Independents and Conservatives are all allowed control of one scrutiny committee chair.

The Conservative group leader had said earlier in the week that he expected last year’s Learning and Skills scrutiny committee chairman Conservative Councillor Gwynfor Thomas to keep the role.

Councillor Davies pointed out that Councillor Thomas had held the role last due to an agreement with the former Independent group who had passed up on their right to appoint one of their own to the chair.

At the meeting Liberal Democrat, Councillor Angela Davies was nominated to continue in her role as chairman of the Economy, Residents and Communities scrutiny committee, Conservative, Councillor Amanda Jenner was also nominated to her continue as chairman of the Health and Care scrutiny committee.

Councillor Thomas was also put forward to continue as Learning and Skills scrutiny committee chairman.

All three were unanimously voted back into their roles by council.

Turning to the role of Democratic Services committee chairman, Plaid Cymru group leader Councillor Elwyn Vaughan has held the post for several years.

At the meeting he faced opposition from two quarters to keep the role.

Powys Independents Councillor Graham Breeze and non-aligned Councillor Little Brighouse were both nominated to become Democratic Services chairman.

Councillor Vaughan dropped out of the race following the first round of voting having received just four votes, while Councillor Brighhouse got 25 votes and Councillor Breeze 27 votes.

In a second round of voting Councillor Breeze won the role after receiving 31 votes to Councillor Brighouse’s 28 votes.

The three roles of representing Powys at Welsh Local Government Association committee were also up for re-election.

Council leader, Liberal Democrat Councillor James Gibson-Watt, deputy council leader Labour’s Councillor Matthew Dorrance and cabinet member for a greener Powys, Councillor Jackie Charlton had served in these roles for 2023/2024.

All three were re-nominated.

Both Powys Independents group joint-leader Councillor Beverley Baynham and Conservative group leader Councillor Aled Davies were nominated for the WLGA roles.

Councillors were allowed to vote for up to three out of the five nominees.

Councillor Gibson-Watt received 35 votes, Councillor Dorrance 34 votes, Councillor Baynham 26 votes, Councillor Charlton 24 votes and Councillor Davies 21 votes.

This meant that Councillors Gibson-Watt, Dorrance and Baynham will represent the council at WLGA meetings.