How the agendas for LFB meetings are put together
AGENDAS for LFB meetings are put together by Committee members, all of whom are volunteers and who arrange meetings in whatever time they have available. As everybody's time is limited, it is normally done at the end of the week and over the weekend before each meeting, which is normally on the second Monday of the month.
Currently the Secretary sends round an email to the Committee asking for agenda items. This is informed by the previous LFB Committee meeting: we hold these held every third Monday of the month. There the Secretary notes any items that come up at the Committee meeting for the agenda of the next Branch meeting.
The agenda is circulated among the Committee in the days leading up to the Branch meeting, before being put on the website as a PDF. This is linked to in email invitation to members that includes the Zoom links and passcodes for the meeting. This email goes out to members ahead of the Branch meeting - currently sometime during the weekend before.
If members have items they feel should be included for consideration on the agenda, they can contact Branch Secretary. It really, really helps if the email subject line is informative: "Please add to Branch agenda: Peterloo Massacre anniversary" for example.
The opening remarks from the Chair at the start of the Branch meeting offer an opportunity to address any other items that should go on the agenda. The Chair usually has to make announcements at this point about flipping around the order of business in response to time constraints or their priority and urgency of various agenda items or the availability of members making contributions on these.
A big constraint is time - we have a maximum of two hours to get through a lot of business, including visiting speakers' spots which take up much of the time allocated. Conducting business via Zoom is more time-consuming. We have built a short break into proceedings in line with NUJ best practice on screen use and online meetings. Thus further reduces the time available. This has caused the Chair recently to implement the practice of limiting speeches to Branch motions to two minutes per speaker.
There are also regular agenda items that have to be accommodated on the agenda for each Branch meeting: election of new members, approval of the previous meetings' minutes, "work matters" discussions and announcements, and so on.
Previously, we have started the speaker spot as soon as possible after the minimum necessary Branch business - with speakers expecting to start around 7pm. Recently, the Committee decided to have speakers on slightly later, with a quarter of an hour at the beginning of a meeting to get motions out of the way, as there have been occasions when meetings were in danger of being timed out at the end of meetings. We now normally expect speakers to start around 7:15pm, after taking motions from 7pm to 7:15pm.
Please note that items requiring a Branch decision - for example to spend money, or to send an official message to another body - need to be presented as motions. Under our rules Branch members need to be informed of motions a week before the meeting, and those proposing them therefore need to send a proposed text to the Secretary ten days before the meeting. Our advice on email subject lines is also important here.
- This information is current at the time of writing, when LFB meetings are being held via Zoom due to covid. Arrangements for putting together the agenda may change when LFB returns to face-to-face meetings, or a mixture of some Zoom meetings and some meetings face-to-face. The way agendas are put together is expected to change rapidly in response to circumstances.