Councillors from all of Derby’s major political parties have joined forces to launch a task group examining switching how the Council makes major decisions.
The move comes after a motion to review how the authority is governed received cross-party backing at the Council’s Annual General Meeting in May.
Key decisions at the Council are currently made by the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Members, with only overarching decisions like approving the budget and setting Council Tax reserved for Full Council.
Under the proposals outlined in the motion, the cross-party group will explore ways to switch to a committee-based system. Proposals will then be presented for approval at Full Council.
Speaking about the first meeting, Councillor Poulter said:
“The move to a committee system would be a major change for Derby City Council, affecting every aspect of how key decisions are made in relation to the excellent services that citizens expect from us. Adopting a committee system would give all parties greater say in the Council’s priorities as each committee would include members from across the political spectrum. I’m delighted that fellow councillors have agreed to join this cross-party group to look at the best way forward for Derby.”
Councillor Alan Graves:
“My party has been calling for a change in governance arrangements for a very long time and we are delighted that the council now has cross party support. This will pave the way for a more democratic process in the way council decisions are made and will give every councillor a more involved part to play.”
Councillor Sean Marshall:
“This first meeting of the cross party working group to look into the introduction of a committee style system to replace the cabinet style governance is an excellent opportunity for the council to create a more open and transparent democracy process for Derby.
“It will enable all Councillors from all political parties to have more of a say in how Derby City Council makes decisions that affect all the residents this great city.
“I look forward to working with the leading members from all the political parties that make up Derby city Council in moving this process forward.”
Councillor Lucy Care:
“The Council has used the Cabinet form of local government for more than 15 years. Looking back over this period, of both higher and lower spending years, is it likely that this will be considered a good period for Derby?
“The Cabinet system concentrates real influence into the hands of a minority of councillors of usually one party. This is at odds with established evidence that a diversity of views and opinions is best for good management. Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government gave Councils back the choice of operating with committees and I welcome the move by Derby to re-embrace this system.”
Work will now begin to review structures for the new committee system, how a new system could be set up, what committees would need to be formed and how many members sit on them.
There will also need to be a review of the Council Constitution and a review of members’ allowances. These proposals will be brought to a future meeting of Full Council and there will then be an opportunity for public debate on them.
The Council had a committee system in place until 2001. It then adopted the current Leader and Cabinet system as required by national legislation at that time.
The Localism Act 2011 gave councils the power to change their governance arrangements. Under the Act, any new system that the Council brings in would have to remain in place for at least five years.