Off to the Council House again this Tuesday for the first full council meeting under the new administration.
The agenda has been published and aside from the usual matters, we can look forward to a revamped Question Time, including the first session where members of the public can put forward their own questions to the Leader and the Cabinet, providing they are submitted in writing either by email or post before noon on the 11 June. There are a few rules about the questions - they can't be vexatious or libellous, they must relate to matters that fall within the business of the City Council, they can't be repeated within six months and they mustn't relate to personal planning or licensing cases. If you fancy putting a question to the new leaders of Birmingham, you can send it by email to email@example.com and you could be asking the questions on Tuesday. By the way - you have to be available at 2pm on Tuesday to ask your question as well!
I like this - it is demonstrating a real willingness to open the council up to public scrutiny. A number of other authorities do this around the country and I'm pleased that Labour are leading the way in Birmingham. Question time as a whole has been increased in length, to allow for questions to the executive members and to ensure that they are held to account properly and not relying on the stage managed annual report, which never offered an opportunity to seriously challenge the cabinet members.
We've also saved money by cutting out the meal break from the meeting and it should all be done and dusted in four hours rather than the usual six.
Other agenda items include a report on customer services, the future of the Civic function (relating to the functions of the Lord Mayor) and a couple of motions for debate.
You can find the details here.