New council leader invites questions from the public

By on 01/06/2012 in Cabinet, Leader, News

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Birmingham residents will be able to challenge council leaders directly – in person and in public – for the first time this month at a 'Question Time' style session during the full city council meeting.

Introduced by Sir Albert Bore, the new Leader of Birmingham City Council, members of the public will be able to ask any Cabinet Member or District Committee Chairman questions during a 20-minute session at the beginning of each of the monthly full council meetings.

Sir Albert is keen to encourage as many people as possible to submit questions - via email or post - for the next meeting on Tuesday 12 June.

He said: “We should be able to take five or six questions at each of the ten full council meetings but we are asking people to submit their questions in advance, so due to the Bank Holiday this does mean that residents only have a few days to send these in before the first session.

“With my new leadership comes a new style of engagement and participation with the residents of Birmingham. I want people to be involved with us in governing their city and I want to hear questions about the city council and the services we provide, and we will do our best to answer them.”

Residents who want to take part should email their question and contact details no later than 12 noon on the day before the full council meeting (Monday 11 June 2012) to or send them in by post to The Council Team, Room B19, the Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB. PLEASE INCLUDE CONTACT DETAILS – PARTICULARLY A TELEPHONE NUMBER

Once the question has been agreed, the individual will be contacted with the arrangements for full council and invited to attend and ask their question with a microphone from the public gallery in the council chamber.

The entire question time section of full council has been extended from half-an-hour (30 minutes) to an hour-and-a-half (90 minutes), of which the first 20 minutes is questions from the public. It is one of the first items on the agenda and the three remaining sections of the question time will be questions from councillors to a) committee chairman or lead member of a joint board; b) a cabinet member; and c) the Leader or Deputy Leader.

Notes to editors:

1. The revised city council's constitution, approved at last month's full council, details in terms of Oral Questions - Questions from Members of the Public, that:

• A member of the public may ask one oral question of any Cabinet Member or District Committee Chairman by submitting the question in writing to the Chief Executive no later than 12 noon on the day prior to the council meeting (Monday 11 June 2012)
• No question will exceed one minute and no answer to exceed two minutes.
• The question must refer to an issue which affects Birmingham or falls within the council's responsibilities.
• The question must not be substantially the same as a question which has been put at a meeting of the council in the past six months.
• The question must not be defamatory, frivolous, vexatious or offensive.
• The question must not require the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.
• The question must not refer to individual planning or licensing matters, or any matter of a personal nature.

2. The new question time at full council is the first item on the agenda and will last for 90 minutes in total from 2.05pm to 3.35pm, broken down as follows:

• Questions from members of the public to any cabinet member or district committee chairman (20 minutes)
• Questions from any councillor to a committee chairman or lead member of a joint board (20 minutes)
• Questions from councillors other than cabinet members to a cabinet member (25 minutes)
• Questions from councillors other than cabinet members to the Leader or Deputy Leader (25 minutes)

3. The dates of full city council meetings are as follows:

12 June 2012
3 July 2012
16 October 2012
6 November 2012
4 December 2012
8 January 2013
5 February 2013
26 February 2013
9 April 2013

For further information for the media only please contact the press office on 0121 303 3287.

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There Are 5 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Richard Morris says:

    Residents will not be able to ‘challenge council leaders directly’ since questions will be pre-vetted. I’m guessing that people who ask awkward questions will not be contacted.

    In addition I cannot see any virtue in asking residents to speak their question. Giving the pre-vetting you might just as well read out the question and the answer. I note (a member of the public can ask one oral question) that supplementaries will not be allowed. The restriction on follow-ups (no similar questions within 6 months) prevents residents pursuing an issue where an unsatisfactory answer has been received.

    I’m all for more participation but this is just pretending.

    • geoffc says:

      As you say, you’re ‘guessing’ what the new Question Time format will be like.
      Perhaps we should see how the system works in practice.

  2. Richard Morris says:

    Geoff, perhaps someone should make it clear how the questions will be chosen and by whom.

    • geoffc says:


      The questions will be taken on a first come, first served basis as long as they fulfil the criteria above.

      As there are 20 minutes for this section of Question Time, I expect six or seven public questions.

      This is the first time this has been done in Birmingham and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bit of fine tuning to the process.


  3. Mr A A K says:

    smoke and mirrors, pretend to increase accountability whilst having lawyers screen questions, blocking follow up of questions for 6 months, perhaps if Sir Bore gave up his other job he could allow more time to answer to the public, how many other main councillors have dual roles that mean council business is not their only or main concern. To ask a question we will have to check the questions already asked at meetings for 6 months prior no doubt the restriction will cover all variations deemed the same by these solicitors. so we will end up with questions asked and formulated responses that dont really answer the issue knowing they will not face that question again until everyone forgets it was asked and the same answer can be given