Councillors continue work to improve democratic accountability
Published: 1 March 2024
Councillors continue work on new proposals to improve democratic accountability
At their Full Council meeting in July 2023 the council agreed to start work on changing its governance and the way elected councillors make decisions on local matters. At present, whilst some decisions are made by Full Council the majority of decisions are taken by a Cabinet, of 8 councillors, appointed by the leader of the council. This can mean that the remaining councillors can feel excluded from the decision-making process under this system.
A working group of councillors was established and in late 2023 the group set out their initial views and a framework for a committee system, which would widen opportunities for all members to get involved in council decision making. Under this system, instead of a Cabinet, the council would be divided into politically balanced committees that will make the majority of council policy decisions, allowing all councillors to take part in some way.
This initial framework suggests five service committees:
• Children’s Services
• Adult Social Care, Public Health & Housing
• Economy, Transport & Infrastructure
• Environment & Community Protection
• Policy, Finance & Resources
Alongside these would continue the existing separate committees that cover statutory functions, such as Planning and Licensing and a new single committee to undertake statutory scrutiny functions of Health and Crime and Flooding.
Councillor Geoff Brodie, who chairs the Future Governance Working Group responsible for recommending changes to the full council said: “The aim of the framework is to demonstrate how communities from across the Island will be better represented on issues that impact their lives by having a wider cross section of councillors involved in decision making. In recent years, Islanders have decided that they do not want a single party to run the council and we have to find a system that reflects this. Giving the whole council a say in decision-making and ensuring that committee membership properly reflects the make-up of the council will help us achieve that.”
The next stage will be to set out more detail on a proposed committee system as well as a timetable that concludes in the Full Council making a formal decision.
The Council is seeking the views of Islanders about the proposed changes throughout the process and residents can make their views known via a dedicated email: email@example.com or in writing to “Future Governance”, IOW Council, County Hall, High Street, Newport PO30 1UD