Cabinet - Independent councillors in Cheshire East

Plans to scrap Cheshire East Council’s cabinet in May and replace it with a series of decision-making committees have been pushed back by 12 months, writes Stephen Topping.

Councillors agreed last May that CEC should work towards introducing the new system for 2020-21, but a first proposal for how that could be carried out was turned down last November.

Cllr Sam Corcoran, CEC’s Labour leader, has now signed a letter with the council’s four other political group leaders confirming another year is needed to get the change right.

The letter is also signed by Cllr Craig Browne, leader of the Independent Group, Cllr Janet Clowes, leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Rod Fletcher, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, and Cllr Brendan Murphy, leader of the Real Independent Group.

It says: “As members of the council, we have learned much about how the committee system will work, and we now understand more clearly than perhaps was anticipated in May, what must be done to ensure that a robust process is fully in place prior to implementation.

“Members will understand the enormity of the change which will take place, and the need to carefully manage this, so as to ensure the continued provision of services to our residents.

“All leaders remain firmly committed to the change and, whilst there is inevitably some disappointment at the need to delay implementation, it is accepted that the committee system should now be implemented in May 2021.

“We believe that this timescale appropriately respects the stated wish of council ­– that the new arrangements must be legally and constitutionally robust.”

Members of the Independent Group launched a campaign to scrap the cabinet in 2018 and included it as a key manifesto pledge at last year’s local elections, before they agreed to work alongside Labour in cabinet for 2019-20.

Officers and a cross-party group of councillors looked into how the change could be made before producing a first proposal, which included six committees to replace the cabinet.

But CEC’s constitution committee rejected those plans last November, with acting chief executive Kath O’Dwyer warning there was ‘insufficient detail’ to make the change at that time.

In particular, councillors want to iron out the details on the number of committees, their responsibilities and powers.

A CEC spokesman added: “Whilst the notice of motion, approved at the meeting of full council, called for the new arrangements to be developed during the current municipal year with a view to implementation in May 2020, council agreed that this must be subject to a legally and constitutionally-binding process.

“We thank the constitution committee, and its working group, for the hard work done since May 2019 in driving forward preparations for the new arrangements and we also thank all councillors who engaged in the process by attending committee meetings and workshops.

“The period between now and May 2021 will provide time for the outstanding detail of the committee system to be agreed and for extensive training and awareness for both officers and councillors.”

Councillors are due to approve the new timetable at July’s full Cheshire East Council meeting.

One Comment

  1. This is ridiculous. It does not take TWO YEARS to change from a Cabinet system to a Committee system.
    The new Labour led administration is just as inefficient as the previous Tory administration.

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