Bid to increase number of area committee meetings fails

Councillor Donald Kelly.

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A bid to increase the number of area committee meetings held across Argyll and Bute has failed – by only two votes.

South Kintyre’s Councillor Donald Kelly wanted the authority to change the number of annual area committee meetings from four to six.

Seconded by Councillor Douglas Philand, Mid Argyll, he had sufficient support from Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Isles (MAKI) area committee at its June meeting for the idea to be put before the full council on Thursday June 27.

But the proposal was quashed by 16 votes to 14, and the four area committees for the council’s divisions will continue to meet four times a year – in March, June, September and December.

Councillor Kelly said: ‘During the last restructure, the council meetings moved to a quarterly basis.

‘I accept this works well for committees like environment, development and infrastructure, policy and resources, and community services, but area committees have lost continuity. We have not had the opportunity to follow issues through with constituents at public question time.

‘When there is an ongoing issue, people come along and get the chance to question councillors and put their views across.

‘By supporting a move to six area committee meetings a year, we would give the general public a 50 per cent increase in democracy.’

But Councillor Robin Currie, Kintyre and the Islands, chairman of the MAKI area committee, submitted an amendment to take no action, seconded by Mid Argyll’s Councillor Donald MacMillan.

Councillor Currie said: ‘We know how many people come to area committees. The biggest ones are on the islands when we go there.

‘Last year we went to Islay and we spent about 90 minutes on public question time, which was really good. We also had a good question time on Gigha recently.

‘But in Campbeltown, very few members of the public turn up. I am not sure if more area committees would serve anything.’