New era as Norfolk County Council ditches cabinet system

County Hall. Photo: Mike Page County Hall. Photo: Mike Page

Monday, April 28, 2014
4:27 PM

Norfolk today went back to the future as the cabinet system at the county council was scrapped to make way for a committee structure.

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Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs.Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs.

Proposals which will overhaul the way the council works were agreed at a special meeting of the full council by 41 votes to 34 with one abstention.

The council agreed to accept proposals put forward by members of the committee governance steering group and move to a new system based on committee decision making from the end of May.

A leader and deputy leader of the council, and chairmen and vice-chairmen of the main service committees, will now be chosen when the council has its annual meeting on 27 May.

Membership of the committees will be constituted on politically proportionate lines, with a review of how the new arrangements are working in November.

At a meeting late last year, the council resolved to move away from its current arrangements - which sees most member decisions being made by Cabinet - to a new system based on committee decision making with greater member involvement.

Today’s meeting agreed that five committees should be established as follows:

■ Adult social care

■ Children’s services

■ Environment, development and transport

■ Communities - incorporating services such as public health, libraries, museums, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Adult Education and community safety

■ Policy and resources - which will have a co-ordination role around the budget development process and the county council’s business plan. It will monitor the overall council budget and overall council performance.

The policy and resources committee will be chaired by the leader of the council and have executive responsibilities for enabling corporate services including ICT, finance, human resources and procurement.

There will be one sub-committee, economic development, and in June the adult social care and children’s services committees will be tasked with considering arrangements to oversee the council’s responsibilities for safeguarding of children and adults.

Decisions which commit the authority to spending more than £100m will have to be taken by a full meeting of the council.

Paul Smyth, who chaired thegroup, said: “I strongly believe the proposals agreed today will offer better governance for Norfolk. It will bring greater democracy, transparency and accountability to the council by giving councillors from all parties a much larger role in decision making.”

George Nobbs, leader of the council, added: “I would like to pay tribute to the ordinary members of the council who have worked tirelessly to come up with a new system of working for the council. I can’t praise highly enough the huge amount of work they have put i and I wish it well.”

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