Independents call for change to be debated by full council

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Independent members of Cheshire East Council are calling for a report to be written and presented to full council in February 2019 regarding why the council should change to a committee system form of governance.

Proposed by Councillor James Nicholas and seconded by Councillor Craig Browne, the motion - which has put forward for discussion at a meeting of Full Council on Thursday, 13th December - is calling for a comparative analysis to be published for a special meeting of the Council (to be held early in the new year) to determine whether the current cabinet system should be replaced by a committee system.

Cllr James Nicholas, Independent councillor for Bollington, said "For the past year the Independent Group have been asking the ruling party to change to a committee system, which is generally considered to be significantly more open, transparent and democratic.

"Each time we have been blocked. With the Cheshire East Cabinet it's either their way, or no way. We have no alternative left us but to go down this route and it appears to me that the public are very much behind us.

"Thanks to all the media coverage from the Change Cheshire East Campaign we hope this will help drag the cabinet to the table, albeit kicking and screaming, to support our campaign to change to the committee system.

"We are giving the Conservative Party every opportunity to avoid holding a costly referendum, which we firmly believe will get overwhelming public support proven by the fact that thousands of people have already signed our petition."

If Cheshire East Council was forced to hold a stand-alone referendum it is estimated that the cost would be between £500,000 and £700,000.

The Independent group say that a committee system, which was used by Macclesfield, Congleton and Crewe & Nantwich until 2001, would mean that a wider group of councillors would be engaged in the decision making process rather than "a small 'clique' of 8 members having almost total control and decisions being made out of the public arena at informal cabinet".

Two further motions are being tabled at this week's Council meeting. The first is calling for the Overview & Scrutiny Committees to be chaired by opposition members, as soon as is practical, and for the Council to allocate all remaining Committee Chairs across the political groups "in line with the principle of proportionality".

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Cheshire East Council
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Marc Asquith
Tuesday 11th December 2018 at 5:20 pm
Is this bunch serious ? i understand that some months ago the Council commissioned a review of its constitution and paid lawyers a pile of money to help with that work - now a bunch of independents think it would be fun to burn our Council Tax money changing the constitution again - why didn't they raise the issue when the Constitution was being reviewed - and if they did raise it and were over-ruled, isn't that the end of the issue ?
Mike Dudley-Jones
Tuesday 11th December 2018 at 8:15 pm
"I speak from a personal point of view when I say that the (Conservative) Cheshire East Council to which Marc Asquith refers has behaved in such an
extraordinary way over the past four years or more that they appear to have lost all public support. I have yet to hear a good word said about them locally or nationally. Indeed, they could be deemed as something of a laughing stock.

The fact that people who care are determined to do something to redress this woeful imbalance is a good thing. It is sad that 'democracy' costs money but it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to what Cheshire East Council have wasted themselves - and will no doubt continue to do so unless they are checked."
Toni Fox
Tuesday 11th December 2018 at 8:45 pm
Marc,

If you re-read the article it states that the Independent Group have tried repeatedly through all the available internal processes at the Council but have been blocked at every attempt by the Conservative leadership.

As Independent Councillors we serve only to represent the views of our electorate and it is they, and many other residents across the Borough, who want change at Cheshire East Council.

They want a Council that is democratic, open and honest.

A Council that listens to its electorate rather than going through tick box exercises.

A Council that does not waste tax payers money paying the wages of suspended senior Officers - over £1M to date.

A Council that does not have several ongoing police investigations into both elected Councillors and Council officers conduct.

A Council that does not have a bullying culture.

Unfortunately your out-dated attitude only serves to mirror those of most of your fellow Conservatives at Cheshire East Council.

Toni Fox

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