Proposed new public ‘Question Time’ at council meetings to expand resident participation

The new proposal is part of plans to increase public participation and improve the way the council engages residents, businesses and other organisations in decision making.

The plans, which will be discussed at the council’s Community and Engagement Committee on 24 September and at Full Council on 15 October, form part of a constitutional review to improve how decisions are taken, ensure that proposals are effectively reviewed, and allow local people to hold decision-makers to account.

The proposed ‘Question Time’ will give the opportunity for anyone to ask questions for 30 minutes at Full Council meetings. This is in addition to being able to give views and raise issues at the four Neighbourhood Committees and ask questions at individual Strategic Committee meetings.

Kingston is also believed to be the only council that enables a community call in process, which will continue under the new proposals. As part of the constitutional review, the current number of signatures required for public petitions and community call-ins for committee decisions will increase. This brings the council inline with other local authority petition schemes, reflects the borough’s population growth and the improvements in digital technology, which allow more signatures to be collected.

The changes come as the council looks to introduce new ways in which local people have more opportunities to give their views throughout the decision making process. This includes the borough’s first ever Citizens Assembly, a range of workshops, events and forums as well as online opportunities.

Cllr Andreas Kirsch, Kingston Council’s Portfolio Holder for Constitutional Issues, said:

“Kingston Council is clear about its ambition to improve community engagement. We’re proposing to strengthen this by introducing a ‘Question Time’ at Full Council meetings. 

“We are focusing on improving our relationship with our residents and want to reach out to more people across the borough to involve them earlier on in the decision making process.

“By providing more opportunities for conversations and feedback, the council will gain better insight into what matters to residents and develop services accordingly.”

The Constitution Review proposals will go to Full Council on 15 October for final approval. If agreed, the changes will come into effect immediately.

As part of the on-going work  to improve how the council engages with communities, it is  asking for views on a new Community Engagement Framework. This outlines an approach to  how the council will work with the local community in the future. There is an opportunity to give views on this until 30 September on