Leaders at Sheffield City Council are set to introduce new rules which they say will make the authority more accessible to members of the public, as well as streamlining public proceedings to stop them from going on for too long.
A report looking at how public meetings are conducted and when they take place will be considered at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet next week, before they are put to all elected members at the council’s annual meeting on Wednesday, May 11.
Under the proposals, meetings of full council will start at 2pm with a maximum duration of three hours and thirty minutes.
Previously, meetings of full council were held in the evenings.
The authority is also proposing that items ‘of public interest and engagement’ will be listed earlier in the running order. Motions will also be listed on the agenda and limited to a maximum of four per meeting.
Time limits for debates which are required following the submission of petitions will be reduced from 40 minutes to 25 minutes, and speeches from councillors will be cut to a maximum of two minutes - down from three.
In future, members of the public who shout out or interrupt proceedings will be given one warning, and then be removed from the council chamber if they interrupt again.
There are also provisions to clear the public gallery more quickly in the event of larger protests.
In February tree campaigners stormed the main council chamber and took part in a ‘sit down’ protest at the end of a meeting of full council.
At the last full council meeting, proceedings were delayed while a member of the public was ejected, following repeated warnings for heckling councillors.
“The Council wishes to make meetings accessible and open to people in order to address issues including engagement and transparency and increase participation by both members of the public and members of the council,” the report states.