Council is moving to committee system of decision making

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Cheshire East Council will move to committee system of decision making next year.

The move away from the current 'leader and cabinet' model was confirmed at a special council meeting held on Wednesday, 19th November.

Under the new arrangements, which will be introduced in May 2021, decisions will be taken by committees made up of elected members in proportion to their representation at council. There will be six committees, all of which will meet in public.

The chair of the Constitution Committee, Councillor James Nicholas said: "The Independent Group have been leading the way on wanting this change since 2017. It has been a long struggle but yesterday there was strong support. This was a great day for the council as we continue to make changes that we believe will be to the benefit of Cheshire East residents."

He added "The committee system is more open, transparent and democratic and since the new administration began in May 2019 the Independent Councillors have been leading the way in making this happen, following the hugely successful ChangeCheshireEast Campaign started by the Independents in 2017."

The Leader of the Independent group, Craig Browne commented "The move to a more transparent and inclusive system of governance is just one of the ways in which we have been trying to change Cheshire East for the better, since Independent Councillors joined the leadership of the Council in May 2019. This decision marks the delivery of our key election promise to residents."

The decision was unanimously supported by 44 members of the Independent, Labour and Liberal Democrat Groups, but unanimously opposed by all 32 members of the Conservative Group present whilst two members abstained.

The change is fixed for a minimum of 5 years.

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Pete Taylor
Friday 20th November 2020 at 5:37 pm
Great news.
Nick Jones
Friday 20th November 2020 at 6:15 pm
Took a while to get here.. [which was openly documented post election to stop appointment by party as a reward and not ability ie Lyme Green Cosocious Corefit etc]... well done...still an early stage for the new broom to keep sweeping out the old detritus ..
Richard Armstead
Friday 20th November 2020 at 8:56 pm
Seemed right at the time but I am not so sure upon reflection.

I believe this will put the basic decision making back into the hands of officers who have recently shown that in Wilmslow they are out of touch with residents' priorities - example, three recent planning applications for care homes without an inkling of supporting infrastructure.

Committee members will find themselves on the back foot to oppose officer recommendations. Despite best efforts when push comes to shove, inspectors at appeal invariably end up supporting the officer recommendation, which supports developer pipe dreams.

Open, transparent and democratic maybe, but in the end it is results that matter not the process. Will this really be 'to the benefit of Cheshire East residents? Previous resident objections to applications or spatial development proposals counted for nought. Will this new system really put these issues into the hands of residents or indeed their elected representatives?
David Jefferay
Friday 20th November 2020 at 11:11 pm
Richard, I understand your particular frustrations about planning but planning is different to most of the service committees in that there are rules which must be adhered to (they are not guidance). As you know, if planning committee members overrule officer recommendations without valid planning grounds, the applicant will just go to appeal and the decision will be overturned and the council will pay the costs. That is not in the interests of residents.
I acknowledge that officers don't always get it right and that is why planning committee members need to understand the rules, be confident and apply them if the officers haven't got it right but what they cannot or should not do is make decisions because they are popular or because that is what the residents want. Sadly, that is not always the case.
However, for the normal service committees, there is more scope for representing the best interests of the residents; individual councillors vote and they make the final decisions. In the old (cabinet) system, your councillor could speak and make their views known but they had zero say in most decisions unless they were one of the 8 cabinet members.
Simon Rodrigues
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 5:05 pm
Hopefully we will see the council doing local work as they should and maintenance . I walked down a road in wilmslow and numerous properties have extended there boundary onto the pavement. Where are the days councils wrote to properties, hedges that for e you onto the road and cars parked overhanging the pavement. Hopefully they will stop hiding behind desks and get some work done.
Mo Jamil
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 6:47 pm
Terrible decision which will lead to mayhem in local govt decision making leading to legal challenges on bad decisions. Most of these independent cllrs are populist lefties and prone to influence by pressure groups and nimbyists instead of dealing with matters on business, technical and legal merit. Law of the jungle coming up in Wilmslow.
Michael Thorley
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 8:34 pm
Mo. I am sorry but you cannot say what you say without evidence. Please explain why a committee system versus a cabinet system leads to 1) mayhem - why. A cabinet and a committee system have structural governance so mayhem no 2) why would decision making of cabinet versus committee be more open to legal challenge 3) decision making is about the working agreed majority and your criticism which is over emotive holds little substance. A councillor irrespective of party are no more open to influence than any other - oh and by the way Mo councillors are open to influence as their job is to listen to people and that does not displace the other. Both influence and logical matters are of equal weight. I am not sure what you mean by Law of the jungle - I could not find it when I went to see it - other than people spouting off without understanding either law, the working of democracy and the use of old fashioned euphemisms without understanding their implication.

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