Thurrock Council is set to review how the community can participate 
in council meetings in an effort to tackle disruption from the public 

The council chambers have witnessed outbursts and shouting from members of the public at two of the last full council meetings.

Meeting chairman Mayor Tunde Ojetola was forced to suspend both of them in order to regain control of the meeting and allow members of the public to either be ejected or calm themselves down.

Now, the council has confirmed it will set up a constitution working group to look at options of encouraging and widening the opportunities for greater public participation at council meetings.

The decision to create the new group comes in light of what the council called “useful feedback and observations from both residents and group leaders”.

The working group will be made up of six council members - two from each political party represented in Thurrock - and the first meeting is set to take place in three weeks’ time.

The new approach was a result of a meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Labour leader Oliver Gerrish.

This committee is responsible for monitoring an overview of the performance of the Council in regards to corporate and central services.

At the last meeting of the committee, in September, it was reported that the new Constitution Working Group should meet to explore the earlier notice of agendas as well as enhance public engagement during council meetings.

Members felt that a greater participation from the public at council meetings would be beneficial and so decided to establish the work group.

Although there are currently procedures in place for the public to participate in meetings, the task force will review the current guidelines and suggest changes where appropriate. 

Members supported the idea of inviting the mayor and deputy mayor – along with past Mayors still serving as councillors – attend to advise the group on the challenges of chairing meetings held in public. 

Work is also continuing by the council to look at whether published information is accessible enough to residents.

This constitution working group will report to council with recommendations to change the formal rules which govern how meetings are conducted.

The first meeting of the constitution working group will take place on Tuesday October 31 at 7pm at the council offices in Grays and members of the public are welcome to attend.