Call to change way of governance of West Northamptonshire Council voted down

It asked for the leader and cabinet model of governance to be changed to one of a committee system and brought in within two years

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 11:30 am
Councillor Sally Beardsworth

A call to change the way in which West Northamptonshire Council is governed has been voted down.

Councillor Sally Beardsworth presented a motion to the authority's full council meeting on Thursday (July 15).

It asked for the leader and cabinet model of governance to be changed to one of a committee system and brought in within two years.

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The motion, which was not carried during a vote at the meeting, stated: 'The Structural Change Order that led to the creation of West Northamptonshire Council dictated that the shadow authority and the council elected this May should operate under the leader and cabinet model.

'We believe that it is now time for the councillors and local people to determine themselves on ways of working and democratic oversight that will better serve the interests of the different communities we represent.

'We should also consider the potential devolution of services to localities.

'To this aim, we call for the council to enable the democracy and standards committee to set up a cross party working group, based on the scrutiny model with officer support, to evaluate the potential replacement of the leader and cabinet system by a new committee system of governance.

'There should also be a full and open piece of public consultation.

'This process should be thorough and well thought out. Therefore, the target commencement of any new governance model to come into operation would be May 2023.

'The first step will be the democracy and standards committee working group establish a term of reference based on the above at its first meeting, no later than September 2021.'

Addressing the council ahead of the motion, Cllr Beardsworth, said: “I've done both. I've done the cabinet and I've done committee.

“The committee to me was the far more sensible thing because people were involved.

“We've got 93 councillors here with a lot of expertise. We've got a lot of new councillors with a lot of good ideas and drive and we should be encouraging them.

“We need to actually have the committee system because all the mistakes that we made in the past with Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council were made when it was the cabinet system.”

Councillor Adam Brown, deputy leader of the council, said: “The reason we are not supporting tonight's submission is around the timescales and the concern this is merely a rush to a pre-determined decision and to move to a committee system, and in fact the way that councillor Beardsworth has moved the motion, confirms exactly that. Her objective is to simply go to a committee system.

“We remain objective. We want to have the current system of governance to bed in.

"The council is to give things a fair crack of the whip and bear in mind that we have many new councillors who won't have experienced either system in the past.”

He went on to say: “We remain committed to having a governance review at the appropriate time but a mere three or four months in to a new council, when people have not acclimatised to local government, isn't the time to start that process.”