Brighton & Hove City Council has committed itself to maintaining open and transparent decision making when new governance arrangements are imposed on it.
The government has told the council that it must scrap its current committee system in favour of an all-powerful ‘leader and cabinet’ by May 2009.
The council agreed unanimously last night that any new ‘cabinet’ based system would not shut out opposing voices, and would ensure that key decisions are thoroughly debated and analysed. Decisions would be subject to effective cross-party scrutiny with panels set up to act in a similar way to select committees in parliament.
Council leader Brian Oxley said: “I’m absolutely committed to open and transparent local government. That’s why I’ve introduced new committees on major projects covering matters such as the Preston Barracks redevelopment, and a new finance committee to get spending decisions out into the open.
“I am committed to making sure we have a system now and in the future where decisions are not taken behind closed doors – other than items that would be confidential under the current system.
“Major decisions will be taken openly and with a guaranteed right for opposition members to attend meetings and speak. Councillors must not be disconnected from the council’s processes.
“Crucially, I am also determined to retain clear links and accountabilites between the council and residents. I shall ensure that petitions, delegations and questions from members of the public can be taken and discussed openly.”
The council is unique for a unitary authority in that it returned to an old style committee system from a leader and cabinet style following a referendum on elected mayors in 2001.
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Brighton & Hove City Council