Councillors to be forced to reflect at end of each meeting

A new agenda item set at the end of meetings will have councillors talk about what was good or bad about a meeting.

Councillor Pete Roberts
Councillor Pete Roberts

The “Committee Reflection” is a recent innovation that has been brought into meetings to help improve the quality of scrutiny and follows a recommendation made to Powys County Council by the Wales Audit Office.

At the end of a Learning and Skills committee meeting, the members were asked to give their views.

They had been looking at a proposal to change the language category of Ysgol Dyffryn Trannon in Trefeglwys to become a Welsh medium school.

Head of democratic services, Wyn Richards, explained the purpose of the reflection period.

Mr Richards said: “We’ll be including it on all agendas from here on in, to reflect on the day, what’s come before you and consider what went well, what didn’t go according to plan, and then how would we do something differently next time.”

“It’s a couple of minutes just to do this as our own self-assessment of how things are going and how we can improve things as they go along, it’s a good time spent.

Committee chairman, Councillor Peter Roberts hadn’t been sure if the item should be held in public or private session.

When Councillor Roberts was told that a previous meeting had reflected in public, he said he was happy to share with those still watching the webcast.

One of the main issues of the day had been technical problems, which had seen the meeting start 30 minutes late.

Councillor Lucy Roberts said: “Once we got through the glitches, accessing the meeting the discussion was reasonably open.”

Councillor Bryn Davies wanted to have a meeting when all the different category types of school are explained to the committee.

He also believed that more weight should be given to pupil numbers at schools taken in the spring rather than autumn term as they are more “reliable.”

Councillor Roberts said that they could be briefed on the data ahead of looking at the new Welsh in Education Strategic Plan at (WESP) later in the year.

Head of transformation and communications Emma Palmer, said: “Could I just remind you; this point of the meeting is about evaluation and reflection of what’s been rather than agenda setting.”

Councillor Roberts added: “What I’m aware of today is that there are a number of new members her on the committee, a number of us have been on this committee for three or four years now and have got a lot of knowledge and we need to ensure that everyone is on a level playing field.”

In 2019, a review by Welsh Audit Offices (WAO) highlighted weaknesses in the scrutiny structure at Powys and gives advice on improvements.

This saw a third scrutiny committee set up.

Tweaks to the responsibilities and names of the committees were agreed at a full council meeting at the end of April.

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