No prospect of evening Chichester District Council meetings until at least 2023

Chichester District Council meetings are held at East Pallant House
Chichester District Council meetings are held at East Pallant House

Younger people could be put off from standing for election to Chichester District Council because none of its meetings are held in the evening.

The point was raised during a discussion at East Pallant House where members agreed a change of meeting times should be explored.

The council is the only one in West Sussex which conducts all business during the day and it was suggested that this could also be preventing members of the public from attending.

During a lengthy discussion at East Pallant House on Tuesday, some members said they had been left out of pocket by the need to take time off work, with Jonathan Brown (Lib Dem, Southbourne) declaring he had used 11 days of his annual leave to attend daytime committee meetings.

Richard Plowman (Lib Dem, Chichester North) said: “How many younger people, people in jobs, people who we would like to have on this council, are actually put off by the very fact that there were daytime meetings and no evening meetings?

“I do support that we need to look into this in much more detail if we’re ever going to get a council which is representative of the people.”

Dr Kate O’Kelly (Lib Dem, Harting) added: “We make better decisions when we represent our community in all its diversity and that includes the young and working age.”

Following May’s elections, a  survey of councillors was carried out to find out what they thought of the idea of evening meetings. Almost two-thirds wanted nothing to change but some suggested a six-month trial period.

It was agreed that leader Eileen Lintill (Con, Petworth) should set up a working group to explore the idea of changing things around from 2023.

A suggestion that the change should be made by next May was voted down with some saying it would be unfair to those already elected.

Mrs Lintill said: “I stood for election knowing that it was daytime meetings.

“If I had thought during that four-year period that there were going to be the majority of meetings in the evening, I might well have reconsidered whether I stood or not.”