COUNCILLORS could be able to ask cabinet members questions outside of full council meetings.

The democratic services committee will recommend that councillors agree a 12 month pilot scheme, which will see Powys County Councillors allowed to ask formal questions “anytime.”

These questions would need to be answered to a deadline of 10 days.

Both question and answer would then be made public on Powys County Council’s (PCC) website.

Head of democratic services, Wyn Richards, brought this practice, used by Newport City Council to the attention of committee members.

They were discussing a report by Mr Richards which recommended an overhaul of questions at full council to try and save time.

Mr Richards said: “The Welsh average for a council meeting is two hours and 39 minutes.

“Our last four meetings come in at three hours 44 minutes, two hours 54 minutes, four hours 52 (minutes) and six hours 19 (minutes).

“Numbers of questions seem to be increasing and are asked at council for a variety of reasons.

“Some are frustration of not getting an answers by other means.

“And lets be honest some of it is about publicity, showing people, these are the questions I asked and the responses I got.

“Is there a better way of doing this, is this the best use of your time? ”

Cllr Dai Davies, (Independent – Berriew), said: “I do like the Newport way of doing it.

“This is a far better way than what we are doing.

“At the moment you have to wait until a council meeting, and it can be three months for it to be heard.

“If we go back to how long our meetings last, it’s not the questions that are making the meetings long.”

Cllr Roger Williams (Liberal Democrat – Felindre) said: “I am in favour of written questions but there has to be a responsibility on the cabinet member to answer questions.

“They can waffle on and not answer the question.

Cllr Jackie Charlton, (Liberal Democrat – Llangattock), added:  “This is an opportunity for individual councillors to ask questions about their own ward and it sometimes has to be political.

“You also get a response publicly, there’s no other way for individual members to hold the cabinet to account.”

Cllr Charlton added that members of opposition groups sometimes felt there was no option but to ask political questions at full council.

She explained this was because their relationship with the cabinet is not as friendly as that of councillors from the Independent/Conservative coalition.

“I’ve had some bad experiences in particular with two cabinet members, that had to go to local resolution,” said Cllr Charlton.

Cllr Dan Rowlands (Conservative – Newtown Llanllwchaiarn North) said: “The length of meetings is a concern.

Cllr Rowlands added that he had discussed this with his brother, Cllr Sam Rowlands – Conservative Leader of Conwy Council, who does not understand how meetings can: “go on and on and on.”

The recommendation will go before the next full council meeting which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 10.