EXCLUSIVE: Bid to end cabinet system at Fenland Hall and revert back to committees gains momentum
10:36 15 July 2014
A former cabinet member is to propose Fenland District Council moves to more open government by reverting back to committees.
A motion calling for the re-introduction of committees has been put forward to the next council meeting on July 24 by Councillor Pop Jolley, former cabinet member for leisure.
He said the committee system operated “very successfully at Fenland for many years prior to the introduction of the leader/cabinet arrangements legislated for by Tony Blair’s Labour government”.
Cllr Jolley said he felt “everyone at Fenland Hall has been elected – so everyone should have some input”.
The motion threatens to split the ruling Conservative group who feel the motion is premature and should be debated privately before being put to full council.
Cllr Jolley said that committees “are the most democratic form of decision making and enable all councillors to be involved and gain experience in many areas”
He added: “Other councils have reverted to a committee system which has ensured both democracy and accountability for all councillors and therefore all electors. They have also contained costs within their existing budgets.”
Cllr Jolley was ousted from cabinet this year during a power struggle which saw leader Alan Melton replaced with John Clark.
Shortly being losing his cabinet role Cllr Jolley came under fire over the £50,000 rebranding of the district’s four leisure centres but it later emerged all Conservative councillors knew of the proposals before they were implemented.
It even prompted Cllr Clark to admit that “the portfolio holder very nobly held his hands up and took responsibility for it but very possibly all the criticism was not his”.
Now Cllr Jolley believes the council should learn from past mistakes and is hopeful of winning support for a cross party group to oversee arrangements for committee governance after next May’s local elections.
Fellow Tory councillor Peter Tunley is another supporter believing committees “are the only democratic way for decision making within a council”.
Conservatives have controlled the council since 1999 although a referendum to vote in an elected mayor was defeated in 2005.