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South West council to restore cabinet system

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South Gloucestershire Council is set to become the first authority to revert to a cabinet after five years of the committee system.

The council was among the first to use new powers under the Localism Act 2011 to scrap the cabinet model and return to the committee system, which had prevailed before the Local Government Act 2000.

Since then the Conservatives have gained majority control and voted last week to reinstate the cabinet once the Act’s five year limit on governance changes expires next March.

Leader Matthew Riddle (Con) said: “I predicted when the decision to go back to the committee system was taken that this would bring more politics into decision making, and we have seen a lot of Punch and Judy exchanges.”

The vote sparked angry responses from opposition parties. Lib Dem group leader Ruth Davis said: “Cabinets are the worst system we have tried. You either believe in allowing members to speak, or you do not. We shouldn’t be concentrating power like this.”

Labour leader Pat Rooney said: “South Gloucestershire used to be praised for its co-operative political culture, but the Tories are trashing this by taking us back to the bad old days where power is concentrated in the hands of a small elite.”

Meanwhile, the Conservative and Green groups have formed an alliance to scrap Worcester City Council’s cabinet and introduce a politically proportionate committee system.

Worcester has 17 Tory councillors, 16 Labour and two Greens with a Labour administration.

A motion from Tory leader Marc Bayliss and Green councillor Louis Stephen, due for debate on Tuesday evening, noted there had been numerous changes of administration and the council was likely to remain in no overall control so, “it is council’s belief that governance arrangements that enable all political parties to share in shaping and directing the future direction of the council should be developed”.

Councils that have used the Localism Act to revert to committees include West Dorset DC, Fylde BC and Maidstone BC.





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