A COUNCILLOR has complained that reports for Powys County Council meetings are being published late, leaving little time to read them properly.
At a meeting of the council’s Finance Panel on Friday, September 14, Conservative Cllr Pete Lewington made the point about the report on the council’s budget monitoring from April to June.
The documents show some good news for the council as they predict by the end of next March, Powys could post a £3.734 million surplus on its £326.621 million budget
Cllr Lewington said: “I’m concerned that we didn’t get the papers until about 7.30 yesterday (Thursday, September 13) morning.
“I do think that gives us a very short time to look at these papers in depth that’s required for this meeting.”
Cllr Lewington asked: “Is there a way we can get the papers out in a more timely manner?”
Finance Panel chairman and Conservative council group leader, Cllr Aled Davies said: “It is extremely frustrating really; these are quarter one reports, and we are nearly at the end of quarter two.”
Head of finance, Jane Thomas, said: “The timing is extremely tight from when Cabinet have the papers to discuss them informally before we can release them to the Finance Panel.
“There is always this tension with any of the scrutiny committees about how quickly papers can be released.”
She explained in this instance that the Liberal Democrat/Labour Cabinet were looking at the report informally on Tuesday and then staff had a “tight turnaround” to make any changes to the reports before releasing them to the panel.
Ms Thomas said, “I apologise, we try to get them out as swiftly as we can.”
Cllr Davies pointed out the cabinet members would have received these documents “some time ago.”
He asked Labour portfolio holder for Finance, Cllr David Thomas if they could be looked at quicker
Cllr Thomas said: “There was a delay in them coming to informal cabinet, in future we should be able to give them to you in plenty of time.”
It is expected that reports to be discussed at council meetings at the same time as the agendas are published – but there are some grey areas in the legislation.
In 2021, a new law by the Welsh Government brought in a number of reforms for local government in the country.
This said that council’s are expected to publish meeting agendas three clear days before they take place, but no specific mention was made of when reports should be published.
The Local Government Act 1972, Section 100 BA does deal with the issue and has been updated since the new Welsh law came into force.
Section 100 BA says: “Copies of the agenda for a meeting of a principal council in Wales and copies of any report for the meeting must be published at least three clear days before the meeting.”
But the legal position also states that if items are added to the agenda they must be published “at the time” it’s added.