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Council / SIC governance review aims to ‘streamline decision-making’

St Ringan's council chamber. Photo: SIC

A WIDE-ranging review of Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) constitutional, governance and procedural arrangements is being proposed in a bid to “reduce bureaucracy and to streamline decision-making processes”.

Some of the topics which could be put under the microscope in the review include membership of committees and whether to remove voting rights from non-councillor members.

The issue of religious representatives being on the education and families committee – and having voting rights – was raised again in the SIC chamber last year, with elected members reluctantly making the required appointments.

Meanwhile the review could also look at whether there is scope to reduce the instance of similar reports going to more than one meeting, and if more business can be delegated to officers or partner bodies.

This comes against a backdrop of continued frustration among some that the same report often goes in front of two or even three meetings.

It is also proposed that the review would consider additional youth representatives on all committees, and adopting non-officer bearer ‘champion councillor’ roles in areas such as poverty, digital and climate change.

The proposal was put in front of members of the SIC’s audit committee on Tuesday but it needs to be signed off by the full council on Wednesday.

A report to councillors highlighted that the review would come against the backdrop of a change in processes such as webcasting and remote attendance.

It added that it is “recognised that some modernisation and updates to terminology within the constitutional documents is needed, and new procedural guidance is required in some areas such as the content of reports”.

“Training and development for members and officers is also recognised as an important element for any new council, as well as the need to commit to building positive relationships and communication with regard to member and officer roles and responsibilities,” the report continued.

The review has been proposed after comments from councillor and officer surveys, as well as informal discussions with elected members.

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