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I have recently had yet another dispute with one of our clerks in that she refused to let me propose  a motion because it was not quote “included on the agenda”.   This has caused me to research motions generally and the way they are handled.  To me there are two types of motions ie those that are proposed out of an agenda item discussion and those that are submitted  “with notice” direct to the clerk by a Councillor i.e. as para 9 of most standing orders.  According to the form I have the with notice applications shall contain a few words with represent the agenda text entry and a separate recommendation and report for the motion.  So there is clear necessity for the text of the proposed motion to be included in the background papers which arguably would form part of the “generic agenda” . So, you have a defined and written starting point .

However,  there seems to be no such discipline/requirement  for the vast majority of motions which morph out of discussions of agenda items.  Often resolutions are proposed via a motion and based on the outcome of any discussions.  However, if you read the “rules of debate” in most standing orders, they talk only of motions that are on the agenda to start with whereas I am saying most aren’t.

This lack of a clear discipline means that meetings which are designed to make decisions often IMHO  turned into talking shops.   Should there be a greater emphasis on the requirement for  prewritten motions being included as a part of the agenda (in background papers) ?   I think there is  to too much “suck it and see” with our agendas.  Have I stumbled on a major flaw in the way we carry out our business?  Should motions be sacrosanct and the starting point for all resolutions ?

This is of course all tied up with the whole vexed issue of “agenda control”.
by (4.6k points)
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3 Answers

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It seems to me all that you have stumbled upon is an idiot clerk and a weak chair….
by (18.2k points)
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For a resolution to be passed at a meeting, it has to be sufficient clear on the agenda to both the public and the participants that the matter is to be discussed and voted upon at a meeting.  This in itself is a problem because, as you say, a discussion can moved towards a particular conclusion/resolution that might, simply by the nature of the discussion, not be clearly specified on the agenda.  One of the reasons that clerks ask for a form or more detail on a proposal is so that they can draft the agenda item in such a way to ensure it encompasses all possible options.  It's not a precise science.   I haven't got a solution to this other than to talk to your clerk about what you're hoping to achieve by your agenda item so the agenda can be worded accordingly.
In our council we do tend to do the talking bit in committees or working groups first which will discuss proposed projects and then make an agreed recommendation to full council.  A bit more long winded I agree but gives an opportunity to iron out any concerns, identify sticking points or queries and ensures the final resolution is clear on the agenda for full council when the decision is made.
by (17.5k points)
0 votes
Funnily enough I’ve come across exactly the same thing and at the end of the day it seems to depend on if the “ powers that be “ support whatever is being voted on
In June last year my PC agreed to apply for the NALC Gold Award which they clearly would never get but the idea was to try and distract from a Governance Review but of course absolutely nothing happened
After the election in May only 11 out of 20 seats were filled so there was no chance of getting the Gold award, I stood down after 12 years

At the April meeting the Chair said that the Council would go for the starter award even though there’s no chance of getting that either

The minutes show this matter was resolved
At the May meeting as a member of the public I asked how a matter could have been resolved when there was no vote, no proposer and no amendment to the original motion about the Gold Award
It will be interesting to see what happens next as the new Chair said it seemed better to go for a Governance Review !

It’s clear in PC land a lot of business is transacted with a vague raising of hands without any proper consideration especially with regards to deadlines and confirmation the action voted on has been completed
My understanding is every time there is a vote the chair reads out exactly what’s being voted on which is then proposed and seconded and recorded
by (11.5k points)
I don't have a problem with a defined process which stipulates the requirement for a starting point motion. What I do have a problem with is that if  you "talk to the clerk" about changing things   you are immediately branded as a trouble maker for daring to challenge the status quo.  I seek a process which delivers the best service possible to the customer in the most efficient way.  I suggest that as things stand that can only be achieved through standing orders.   I merely point out that "it aint there" in NALCs model guidelines !!
What we must do is eliminate the "powers that be" approach
Its not the process that needs changing - its the people who are doing the processing who need changing (or educating)!
I disagree (whilst  sympathising) John 1706.  The problem is that you can change (or establish) a process but you cant change the Councillors/staff.
"You can't change the councillors/staff" ... righto ... I'll leave it with you.
Well I am going to say it .  According to my research there are two forms of motions substantive and procedural .  Any substantive motions can only be included on the agenda if prior notice (as per para 9 of SOs) is given to the clerk.  There is no facility to propose a motion from an agenda item debate unless the item is accompanied by a written recommendation.  If this requirement is followed well it would mean most of the agenda items would be just for noting.    The foregoing seems fundamentally opposed to how most Councils operate  I have to ask myself , am I missing something because I cant find anything to the contrary

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