Croydon’s new mayor has made a pledge to make council meetings shorter.

With meetings regularly running to three-and-a-half hours or more, Councillor Humayun Kabir thinks that’s just too difficult for councillors with young families – and those who are older, too.

But his proposal has been criticised by some who think it will make the council less transparent. 

Concerns have been raised that cutting meetings short means there won’t be time for questions from the public – and there will be less time for scrutinising the administration, too.

At Croydon Council’s annual meeting on Monday night, the new mayor said: “The demographic of the chamber is changing every four years. Now we have parents in the chamber who have young children, and many councillors are in their 60s, 70s and some of them are in their 80s.

“Considering the attention span we adults have, to sit for three and a half hours in council meetings is a big ask in this age.

“Many councillors attend these meetings directly after a full day at work and as incoming mayor, I believe that it is the right time for this chamber to be more family and age friendly.

“And with this is mind I will be working with the leader of the council and opposition to review the length of future council meetings.”

But speaking after the meeting, opposition councillor Mario Creatura said he was “taken aback” when the plans were announced.

He said: “There are only six full council meetings in a year and at each of these the public only gets half an hour to ask questions.

“And councillors already don’t get enough time to scrutinise the administration. It is going to mean councillors not debating important issues or those that come from public question time.

“I don’t think it is a good idea at all. I think it reduces the transparency of the council, unless there is a way that we can shorten the meetings and increase the frequency.

“But from what the mayor said, it does not sounds like a good thing for an open and transparent democracy.”