Sunday 23 June 2024
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Nottingham

County Council to return to a Cabinet system of administration

A new form of governance is due to be approved at Nottinghamshire County Council which will see the authority return to having a cabinet.

The council is expected to shift from the committee system to a leader and cabinet operation as it gears up for potential new powers through devolution.

It will mean a massive shake-up to the decision-making powers within County Hall, shifting away from cross-party committees making key decisions on a raft of council policies.

The authority will instead make major decisions through cabinet meetings, with nine posts to be created alongside current leader Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con).

Documents confirm the remits of cabinet members will broadly reflect the portfolios held by the current chairs of the authority’s existing committees.

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This includes transport and environment, finance, adult social care and public health, children and families, communities, personnel, transformation, business management, and economic development and asset management.

It is unclear at this stage whether the current committee chairs will be selected for their respective cabinet positions, or whether Cllr Bradley will opt for a reshuffle.

A decision on which councillors will hold the cabinet positions is expected to take place at the annual general meeting in May.

Further scrutiny committees will also take place within the authority to monitor the actions and decisions of the executive.

These will include the continuation of the existing health and wellbeing board and the planning and rights of way, pension fund and governance and ethics committees.

And the authority will also create select committees covering adult social care and public health, children and young people’s, and place.

It will bring the authority broadly in line with the majority of other authorities in Nottinghamshire, with only Broxtowe and Newark and Sherwood councils not currently operating in this format.

However, similarly to Nottinghamshire County Council, both authorities are in the process of moving to a cabinet system this year.

It comes 10 years after the county council opted to move away from the same governance model, a decision the authority describes in documents as one which “best suited local circumstances” at the time.

But the council adds changing back to the cabinet system will provide “maximum flexibility” when negotiating with the Government for a devolution deal.

And the Conservative-led administration also believes it will lead to “more efficient and effective decision making”.

The council says: “A strong leader and cabinet model gives the Council maximum flexibility and leaves the Council best prepared for any form of devolution.

“The current administration of the council … believes an executive form of governance leads to more efficient and effective decision making with clearer accountability.

“Furthermore, it would enable the council to better respond to the fast-moving pace of change which is a feature of modern life and ensure delivery of the ambitions for local people and local businesses.”

The new arrangements will see scrutiny committees given call-in abilities when they believe decisions taken by the cabinet had “perceived procedural error”.

Committees will, however, be limited on the number of call-ins they can conduct per year.

Cabinet members will be given final sign-off powers for decisions within their remit, with the authority to begin a delegated decision log on key changes taken by the authority.

And they will be required to regularly attend overview and scrutiny meetings to explain decisions taken by the executive and to update on the plans of the administration.

Full council will still be responsible for finalising the authority’s annual budget, as well as setting members of committees and any key governance issues.

The full council meeting on March 31 is recommended to approve the new system, which will come into effect from May.

The system will be monitored during the first year to assess its progress and whether any changes are needed.

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