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BIRMINGHAM'S CABINET COMMITTEE MEET FOR THE FIRST TIME

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Albert Bore, the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, has rejected claims of policy decisions being made in pr...
Albert Bore, the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, has rejected claims of policy decisions being made in private, following the first meeting of the authority's cabinet-style executive committee.

The Birmingham Post (p3) reports that the system was attacked by the Tory group leader, David Roy, who said the 'secret summit' was in direct contrast to the new era of openness and transparency promised by Mr Bore when he became leader two months ago.

'Councillor Bore promised he would do away with smoke-filled rooms, but quite clearly there has been no improvement,' he said. 'I am very angry that we are being kept in the dark about what actually goes on in these meetings. It is decision making behind closed doors.'

But Mr Bore said the board represented a new era in open government and denied it was taking decision-making powers away from the existing structure.

The first meeting was attended by Mr Bore and seven leading Labour councillors, along with Michael Lyons, the chief executive and chief officers of the council's legal, leisure and community, environmental, transportation, education and public relations departments.

Minutes of its meetings, which will now be held fortnightly, will be made available for public inspection afterwards.

Mr Bore added; 'There are times when the views of members of Birmingham Council need to be considered in quiet, without the spin which others need to put on them.'

Meanwhile, the Post's editorial (p12) attacks the committee, and says all the real power has been concentrated into one committee which meets in secret. It is clear that the really vital issues will all be 'stiched up' well in advance [of other committee meetings held in public] by the cabinet-style committee.

The editorial concludes: 'In her first significant act as a backbench MP, Margaret Thatcher introduced legislation requiring local councils to open up their deliberations to the press and public. Almost 40 years later it seems we are returning to the dark days of deals behind closed doors. Birmingham deserves better.'

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