Agenda item

Council Procedure Rules - Standing Order concerning voting and electronic voting


The Director: Governance and Assurance, Monitoring Officer introduced his report that set out proposals to address deficiencies in Standing Order 18 of the Council Procedure Rules (Part 4(A) of the Constitution) concerning voting methods. The report had regard to the model standing order contained in statutory Guidance and recommended a revised standing order for procedural improvements and to cater for use of the electronic voting system in the Council Chamber.


The report informed that Council was legally required to have regard to the statutory Guidance in drafting Council standing orders. A draft revision at the report Appendix C was based on the model standing order contained within the Guidance, together with:


(a)  those elements of the existing WBC standing order that appear to have been drafted with good reason and are not otherwise found in the Model; and


(b)  amended to cater for the addition of an electronic voting system and the Council’s preferred custom and practice.


The Monitoring Officer, apprised the Committee that the Council’s current Model Standing Orders build on, and remain largely similar to, the model standing orders issued in 1963 (and reprinted 1973) and earlier. They provided a ‘factory re-set’, which was worth regularly coming back to, to re-examine where the Council has strayed from them and whether the reason for so doing remains, and are thus worth retaining or not.


A Member pointed out that at recent meetings of Council he felt that an inordinate amount of time had been taken using the electronic voting for every vote, and asked if the revision to Standing Orders could accommodate this concern.


A Member also requested that the proposed Standing Order 18(1) be amended to reflect that Members not only be present, but be seated in their places, as per the Council’s current Standing Orders.


Concerns were also expressed by a Member regarding Council’s controls in respect of the methods used when voting.


Members similarly questioned the Monitoring Officer, seeking clarification on the specific nature of the wording in respect of affirmation of Council for procedural votes that could be dealt with without recourse to the electronic voting system e.g. acceptance of meeting minutes, and where it may be the will of Council not to utilise electronic voting for one reason or another. Members believed that this could in effect help address concerns regarding use of electronic voting for every vote.


The Monitoring Officer explained that ‘affirmation of the meeting’ was included at Standing Order 18(3) specifically for this purpose. Likewise, although not recommended, the Council would always have the backstop of moving the suspension of Council Standing Orders. The Monitoring Officer summarised that the new Standing Order did move the default position from all votes being by a show of hands, to that of use of an electronic voting system if available and functioning correctly. 




Council be recommended to adopt a revised Standing Order 18 of the Council Procedure Rules (Part 4(A) of the Constitution) attached at report Appendix C and as appended to these minutes.

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