It would make more “effective and transparent decisions”
Mid Devon should scrap its cabinet system in order to make more “effective and transparent decisions,” a councillor says.
Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
Cabinets are the most common form of governance on local councils. They are led by a leader who appoints a number of cabinet members – usually from the same party – to take charge of different departments.
The system favours a party that has a majority of council seats. However Mid Devon has been under no overall control since the last full elections in 2019.
As a result, it has been run by Independent-Lib Dem and Independent-Conservative coalitions, but was plunged into chaos last week when its Tory cabinet members left in a dispute over the council’s controversial 3 Rivers property development company.
Independent leader Bob Deed says he “fired” them, though Tory group leader Clive Eginton claims they resigned. It leaves the cabinet with just three members, meaning it cannot legally function.
Full council elections are due to be held in less than three months.
Cllr Deed says he will look to appoint replacement members in the coming days, but Cllr Eginton has submitted a motion to next week’s full council meeting calling for his removal as council leader with “immediate effect.”
The spat has led independent councillor Nikki Woollatt (Cullompton North), who served on Cllr Deed’s cabinet for a time, to call for a “modernised committee system to be implemented from the annual meeting of 2024.”
Under this system, according to the Local Government Association, councils are “divided into politically balanced committees that make decisions.”
It adds the system “does, inherently, give a louder voice to minority parties and Independents, since each committee is made up of members from all groups.”
Cllr Woollatt’s motion, submitted to next week’s meeting, states: “This council recognises that in order for taxpayers to have faith in the ability of Mid Devon District Council to make effective and transparent decisions … there has to be a fundamental change in the decision-making process.”
It also calls on councillors to “acknowledge that in a mature democracy there is a need for inclusive government which enables all members to make a valuable contribution in the running of the council.”
The motion will be debated at a full council meeting on Wednesday [22 February].