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Activists force poll on committee system

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The first referendum forced under new legislation will cost about £54,000 to stage.

A report to Fylde BC this week based the estimated costs of the referendum seeking a return to the committee system on current knowledge of how the expenses of the two ballots would be split. The vote is due to coincide with the European elections on 22 May.

The £61,838 currently budgeted for cabinet members’ special responsibility allowances might change either up or down were activists to secure a ‘yes’ vote, the report said.

Fylde Civic Awareness Group gathered 4,600 signatures last year for the petition making the first use of the provision in the Localism Act 2011 to force a referendum to change the governance system.

This followed a series of local disputes including over swimming pool closures and the loss of heritage buildings.

“The main concern was the new cabinet system of governance had resulted in a lack of transparency and democracy,” the group said.

The group said the cabinet system meant only seven out of 51 councillors had a vote on day to day decisions and so most councillors had “no right to speak on your behalf at cabinet meetings, and has no vote on matters the cabinet decides”.

Fylde’s report proposed that if there were a ‘yes’ vote the council should move to four committees covering tourism and leisure, operational management, health and housing and finance, with the existing regulatory committees continuing and each committee having “full delegated authority to make decisions within the parameters set by full council”.

Several councils have reverted to the committee system in place of a leader and cabinet, though without a referendum.

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