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Letter of the week - 20 October 2011

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The fourth way to fostering local democracy.

LGC will donate £20 to the Lewis Jeynes Fund or to a charity of the letter writer’s choice.

I chair the Fourth Option Special Interest Group (Fosig), the non-political group of more than 30 councils that take advantage of a legislative quirk to operate and lobby for the committee system.

The Localism Bill, for the first time, will enable all councils to choose the system of governance that they want. Most councils operate the cabinet system where a small group of very powerful councillors make all the decisions. The Localism Bill will provide a real alternative to this. Each council will be able to choose if and how it wishes to set up its own committee system. There will be no prescriptive rules of how to do this.

Because all councillors can sit on a range of committees every member has a vote every time. Our councillors don’t feel marginalised from any decision. The vast majority of decisions are debated and made during committee in full public view. All councillors and constituents hear the full debate and the perspective of the ward councillor. It also allows the opposition to be part of the debate and vote when the decision is actually taken.

I urge others to contact me if you are interested in re establishing true democracy in your council chamber. The Fosig AGM is at LGA House, Smith Square, London on 18 November. You are more than welcome to come but please let me know beforehand.

Jeffrey Kaufman (Lib Dem), chair of Fosig, Oadby & Wigston BC

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