The last meeting of the All-Conservative Non-Rayleigh Council Cabinet supported the following proposals, they will now go to Full Council for a decision:
1.1 Recommended to Full Council that from the next municipal year:-
i) The membership of the Review Committee is expanded from eight Members to fifteen Members, with the Chairmanship continuing to rest with a Member of the main opposition party.
ii) The specific functions carried out by the Review Committee are expanded to make clearer reference to its role in both the budget monitoring process and the forward planning around the budget and medium term financial strategy, including in-depth review and analysis of not just policy issues, but also service specific areas of work. Also, to include specific reference to the scope for joint reviews with adjoining Councils.
iii) The Executive Portfolios and responsibilities be changed as follows:- Environment to become Environment, Leisure, Arts and Culture. Leisure, Tourism, Heritage, Arts, Culture and Business to become Economic Development, Regeneration, Business Liaison and Tourism. Planning and Transportation to become Planning, Transport and Heritage
iv) Each of the Executive Portfolios allow for a Member to work shadow each of the Portfolio holders; these work shadowing arrangements to be facilitated by the Leader who will make the appropriate appointments.
v) In light of iv) above, the current two Member champion roles be disbanded.
vi) The current East and West Community Forums be disbanded and replaced by a more tailored approach, which involves:-
1) The Leader and appropriate Portfolio Holders, plus the Chairman of the Review Committee, meeting with the leaders of the Parish and Town Councils two times a year to discuss matters of common interest across the District.
2) Working with the Police and Crime Commissioner and the local Joint Crime and Disorder Partnership to promote two public meetings per year on policing and crime in the District.
3) Working with the local Clinical Commissioning Group and local Joint Health and Wellbeing Board to promote two public meetings per year on health provision in the District.
4) Arranging other topic specific or area specific meetings as appropriate, as agreed by the Leader and relevant Portfolio holders.
vii) Subject to the agreement to i) to vi) above, the relevant changes be made to the Council’s constitution to reflect these decisions.
So what does all this mean in practice?
First of all the Council’s Review Committee is going to be expanded from 8 councillors to 15. The job of the Review Committee is , roughly, to analyse council decision making and policies, and is ably chaired by the one Lib Dem on the committee, June Lumley. It’s a bit like a Select Committee at the Houses of Commons. Expanding the committee might allow it to do more work, provided that the 15 members are all keen and raring to go.
They are going to change some of the job titles and roles within the cabinet. So Mike Steptoe, the affable cabinet member for Environment, will presumably become cabinet member for Environment, Leisure, Arts and Culture. (That’s going to be a real mouthful we want to write about him – wouldn’t “Environment and Recreation” cover things?
They are going to have a few ordinary councillors being allowed to shadow a cabinet member. This would give useful training for cabinet members; it’s not clear yet if it would ever be offered to non-Conservatives.
They are admitting that the current Community Forums have been a total embarrassment, and replacing them with a different set of meetings. We hope they will work better – they can”t work any worse.