Newport City councillors have supported a proposal to bring back ward meetings to better engage residents with local government issues.
Three meetings a year are proposed, one of which will be solely focused on the budget, with another on the council’s performance. The third meeting will have a flexible agenda and won’t have senior officers present, due to resources.
Originally two meeting a year were proposed, but this was criticised by the committee as being too restrictive. Cllr Phil Hourahine said the updated proposal was a “reasonable compromise”.
The policy is part of the council’s participation strategy and the report states the meetings aim to establish a consistent approach to engaging with communities across Newport.
Head of democratic services, Leanne Rowlands, has previously confirmed that the policy will not replace surgeries or local networks.
At a democratic services committee meeting on Friday January 27, Labour councillor Hourahine raised concerns about a potential issue between councillors of different parties – who represent the same ward – having to agree to the meeting.
Cllr Hourahine’s ward of St Julians is represented by two Labour councillors and one Liberal Democrat.
Conservative councillor David Fouweather, who represents Allt-yr-yn, said: “I think most of us will agree to just get on with it.”
A venue for the meeting will be organised by the council. Due to many being held in community centres, online access is not to be expected.
Cllr Trevor Watkins, who represents Tredegar Park and Marshfield, said: “There should be a police officer present for security reasons, because of issues that have arisen in the past.”
Cllr Kate Thomas, who represents Stow Hill, said: “We should recognise these are opportunities for our stakeholders and partners to have an input as well.”