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Bid to limit questions from councillors 'undemocratic'.

A PROPOSAL to limit the number of questions that can be asked of the politicians running Wales' biggest local authority is undemocratic, a councillor has claimed.

Cardiff council's constitution will be amended under proposals to restrict the number of questions that backbench and opposition councillors can ask Cabinet members.

"Member debates" designed to raise issues "for a free and frank discussion" will also be introduced during a trial of the changes later this year.

A committee of councillors recommended the move to make monthly full council meetings more like "mini-debates" rather than members just reading pre-prepared answers and questions.

But Rhiwbina's Independent councillor Jayne Cowan, a member of the constitution committee, said: "All this is going to do is decrease democracy in Cardiff.

"Any kind of move to reduce the number of questions councillors can ask Cabinet members smacks in the face of democracy."

However, Councillor David Walker, leader of the Conservative Group and also a member of the committee, said full council meetings had become "turgid".

The Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Judith Woodman, said there was a danger the changes could "censor" councillors.

"You never know what you may need to ask on behalf of residents - it's becoming a bit of a dictatorship," she said.

Under the proposal, there will be a limit of 30 questions at each meeting and those that are not dealt with within a 90-minute session will be cut.

Based on the current council make-up, Labour would ask 10 questions, followed by Liberal Democrats (five), Independents (four), Plaid Cymru (four) and other Independents (one).

Councillors would still be able to ask as many written questions they want.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 31, 2013
Words:273
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