At Wednesday’s meeting of South Gloucestershire Council, the ruling Conservative Group’s plans to change the way it makes decisions were approved. This includes introducing a new ‘less complicated and less expensive’ Cabinet system.
The move comes after the Independent Remuneration Panel stated earlier this year that “the move away from collegiate working among political group lead members is significant in our view.”
Currently the Council makes decisions by committees, after Labour and Liberal Democrat Councillors voted to revert back to the old system in 2012. But Labour and Lib Dem councillors are no longer pulling their weight as decision-makers and a previously collegiate way of working has broken down.
The new system would create a Cabinet, which would take the majority of decisions. Some decisions would still be made by Full Council, but the main role of non-Cabinet councillors would change to one of scrutiny, working to hold Cabinet members to account and to suggest alternative policy proposals.
Speaking of the decision, Council Leader Matthew Riddle 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.
Labour and the Lib Dems forced a change to the old Committee System, which created slow-moving, unwieldy decision-making. When they failed to get a majority of seats at the last election they abdicated their responsibilities as decision-makers, as evidenced by an independent panel, and the huge number of times Labour and the Lib Dems have ducked the big decisions.
As such, to address this frustrating lack of engagement, and to make sure things can still get done, we are taking the bold decision to change the way we do things.
The new Cabinet system will make sure there is a proper focus on the issues, rather than on party political point scoring. It will be efficient and effective, but maintain transparency and accountability. Not only this, but I believe it is less complicated and less expensive.”