Members of the Green Group of Stroud District Council have expressed their frustration after they voted against a change of constitution but were outnumbered.
The change means the quorum for remote Council meetings has dropped from 50% to 25%.
This means out of the 51 councillors, only 7 would be considered a majority and can thus make a decision on behalf of the Council.
Cllr Martin Whiteside, leader of the Green Group said:“Greens believe decision making should be made more democratic, not less,
“It is important that decisions are taken by councillors who reflect the different areas, political parties, ages and genders of our district. Reducing the number of councillors needing to be involved in important and far-reaching decisions to a quarter of those elected does not achieve this, democracy is not being done, nor is it being seen to be done. That is why we voted against these proposals.”
Cllr Catherine Braun added: “No evidence has been presented that online meetings have lower attendance or that the current quorum requirement has been a problem. One meeting was given as an example to justify lowering quorum and that was a meeting that went forward; there was almost a problem. Almost but not quite a problem, this is not a good enough reason. If there are a lack of members able or willing to attend a meeting then the reasons for the low attendance need to be addressed, not lowering the democratic bar,”
A statement from Stroud District Council said: “The reduced quorum numbers only applies to remote meetings and will be reviewed in six months time.
“This reflects the situation in other councils and is a safeguard to enable the Council to carry on with urgent business if a number of councillors were to become ill as a result of Covid-19 or if there are network problems which prevent continued attendance at remote meetings because councillors have to be present throughout the meeting for it to be valid.
“Recent attendance at remote meetings has demonstrated that the majority of councillors are able to take part, so the issue of quorum is unlikely to arise and we have also taken steps to arrange for meetings to be paused to allow the members to re-connect. The change to quorum rules does not change the obligation of all councillors to attend meetings, unless they have a legitimate reason not to be able to due to personal or work issues.”