Cheshire East Council moves to committee system

Cheshire East Council has this week made the change to operate a committee system for decision making.

The council has operated under a cabinet system since it was formed in 2009. Now, decisions previously made by the cabinet, will be made by 'service committees'.

Under the cabinet system, ten individual councillors, called cabinet members, had responsibility for specific areas of the council's work, such as 'children and families' or 'highways and waste'. Cabinet members were appointed by the leader of the council. The cabinet met monthly to make many of the decisions about the council's services and policies. Decisions of cabinet were scrutinised by cross-party overview and scrutiny committees.

Under the new system, decisions are made by committees, each responsible for a different area of the council's services.

Each new service committee has 13 members who will collectively make decisions. The political make up of each committee reflects the political make-up of the council.

The chairs of the service committees are as follows:

· Chair of the Corporate Policy Committee – Councillor Sam Corcoran

· Chair of the Finance Sub Committee – Councillor Amanda Stott

· Chair of the Children and families Committee – Councillor Kathryn Flavell

· Chair of the Health and Adults Committee – Councillor Jill Rhodes

· Chair of Economy and Growth Committee – Councillor Nick Mannion

· Chair of the Highways and Transport committee – Councillor Craig Browne

· Chair of the Environment and Communities Committee – Councillor Mick Warren

The system was implemented following a legally binding decision in November 2020 and cannot be changed for five years. It was developed to ensure that decision making would be easy to access and held in public; the cost of new arrangements would be kept to a minimum and there would be timely and efficient decision making.

The leaders of all political groups of Cheshire East Council said: "It is a councillor's role to bring local issues that are of importance to residents to the table. The new service committees bring more councillors into the decision-making process and we hope that this new arrangement will help the council to be modern, open and transparent.

"We would like to thank the council officers who have worked tirelessly to support the move from a cabinet to a committee system. The new committees cover all areas of the Council's business and support our aim for decision-making to be easy to access for our residents, as well as allowing greater scrutiny of those decisions at the point of discussion.

"We hope that the committee system will lead to a more consensual way of working, dealing with the matters that concern our local residents the most, with a broad range of opinions represented on each committee and giving more councillors a seat at the decision-making table."

Members of the public are welcome to attend the committee systems, subject to local and national coronavirus restrictions in place at the time of the meeting. A calendar of committee meetings and upcoming meeting agendas and papers (once published) are available to view online



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

David Hadfield
Friday 7th May 2021 at 11:29 am
Councillor Craig Browne - Chairman of the Highways Committee

Hi Craig, I need to mention one thing to you and your committee ;

Graham Morgan
Friday 7th May 2021 at 4:39 pm
I couldn't agree more; I live on Knutsford Road, and the road condition is like a third world country.
Craig Browne
Friday 7th May 2021 at 6:02 pm
Hi all,

The Highways Maintenance Programme for 2021/22 will be published shortly and as you would expect, I have been pressing for the inclusion of a number of our local roads. I will report further on which of these have made it into the programme, over the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, the capital funding that Cheshire East Council receives from the Department for Transport for road repairs has been cut by £3.9m this year (a reduction of 21%) and inevitably this does mean that we will be able to carry out fewer repairs than we would like.

Cheshire East Council is seeking to offset the some of the impact of this reduction in central government funding, by investing £3m from its own capital funds (ultimately, your Council Tax), of which £1.2m will be used to target drainage improvements and repairs.

It is worth noting that the highways network in Cheshire East is a £6bn asset/liability and that this year's funding from the Department for Transport (£15m) represents an investment of just 0.0025% relative to the value of the asset.

Kind regards,
Vince Chadwick
Friday 7th May 2021 at 6:58 pm
The appalling state of Britain's roads are not just a local issue. Some areas of the country are worse than others, but potholes and poor road surfaces have become a growing national disgrace in recent years, so what Craig says about a 21% reduction in funding from DfT this year rings true. And that is just THIS year! Year on year that budget has been cut and we all suffer the results.

It may be that Cheshire East could spend their reduced budget more efficiently by instigating fewer but higher quality repairs instead of 'quick and cheap' hole-filling that doesn't last. But the basic problem is underfunding of road maintenance by central government. Potholes are an everyday reminder of that.

It might be worth remembering that next time you vote to elect our local MP.
Paul Dawson
Friday 7th May 2021 at 10:40 pm
Craig. I do hope your appointment as Chair of the Highways and Transport committee does not become a poison chalice. It certainly looks like the toughest committee to lead with the current state of the Highways. So I wish you every success.

I’m sure all readers will have their personal ‘favourite’ stretch of pot-holed roads. Mine is the stretch from Alderley Park lights towards Bradford Lane. Cycling or driving carries equal dread as you slalom one way then the other. I reported it using the Council’s online system. Interestingly I received two separate reference numbers from the same submission (not sure if that is a super efficient system or a system bug that exists). My latest update is that it will be assessed as part of the programmes safety inspections. Not sure what that means, but let’s see.

One request is to continue the communication on the Highways programme with residents. You won’t please everybody, but please ensure there is transparency on the activity that is possible with the resources you have available.
Jon Williams
Saturday 8th May 2021 at 11:38 am
Chair of the Highways and Transport committee – Councillor Craig Browne

Broken/wind damaged fence panels on Alderley Edge by-pass, some have been like that for years and look unsightly.