When you attend a meeting of the Authority, you will find copies of the agenda, minutes, reports and any other papers for the meeting in the public gallery, which you can take away free of charge if you wish. You can get agendas, minutes and reports up to eight days before the meeting by arranging to collect copies from us, by post or via our website.
This lists in order what will be discussed at the meeting, but the Chairman can change the order if necessary.
This is usually the first item of business on the agenda and records what was agreed at the previous meeting.
The names of those Members who cannot attend are noted and the Chairman makes any special announcements (usually about issues affecting the Brigade, Authority or its members).
At this point any Member must declare if they have a personal interest in any item on the agenda. This covers matters which potentially may affect their judgement, for example, if they have business connections with a company which the Authority is considering using.
Sometimes, on behalf of residents or visitors to London, Members are given a petition about a particular issue. When this happens, the Member can present it at the Authority meeting (normally before the meeting starts to consider the officer reports).
Having briefly explained what the petition is about, rather than talk about the substance of the petition there and then, the Authority will then ask one of its officers to prepare a detailed report for a future meeting when the matter will be fully debated.
Each report is then considered in turn, unless Members agree to vary the order of business.
Normally, the Chairman will ask one of the principal managers to briefly explain what the report is about. Members may then ask questions and discuss the issue. Members indicate they wish to speak by putting their hands up and the Chairman will ask each Member in turn to speak.
On many items, after they have talked about it, Members will support the proposal and it is agreed. However, if a member wants to, he/she can suggest something different or a change to the proposal (this is called an amendment).
When Members have finished talking about the alternative proposal, the Chairman will ask whether the amendment is supported, usually by asking for Members to put up their hands. Sometimes on sensitive or contentious issues Members ask for a roll call vote (each Member’s name is read out and they indicate if they are for or against the proposal).
The amendment can only be agreed if the majority of the Members accept it. If the majority do not agree, the meeting goes back to the original recommendation or proposal from the Chairman and Members decide, again by a majority, whether or not to agree it.
Two separate twenty minute periods are set aside during which any Member of the Authority or Member of the public can ask a question of the Chairman concerning matters for which the Authority is responsible. Advance notice of questions must be given (see Getting Your Voice Heard). Written answers from the Chairman are available 24 hours before the meeting in relation to Member Questions and 1 hour before the meeting in relation to Public Questions. Two follow up questions can be asked at the meeting, by the person who asks the original question.