"This Branch notes that: The Newham Governance Referendum on 6th May 2021 will offer the electorate a choice between confirming the current Directly-Elected Mayor & Cabinet Model and adopting the Committee Model of local governance.
This is a very different and updated approach from previous old- style Council Committee Models, which a number of Councils have introduced successfully.
Full Council – not the mayor or a ‘strong leader’ – holds all the decision-making powers. It is full Council’s decision whether to exercise those powers directly or to delegate them to committees or to officers.
· Full council retains a number of key functions, including responsibility for the overall policy framework, the corporate plan, the budget and the setting of council tax;
- Full Council appoints a leader, but without executive powers. They can be replaced by full Council – which not an option that exists under Newham’s current arrangements.
- Committees will be based on major functional areas, such as housing, finance, education and resources; along with regulatory committees such as planning and licensing; governance committees such as audit and standards; and statutory scrutiny committees, such as health.
· Committees will be politically balanced, so the majority party maintains a dominant position in decision-making;
- There is an opportunity to establish local committees based on ward or multi-ward geographical areas, with the relevant ward councillors as the membership.
This Branch believes that:
· the Committee Model ensures that there is greater equality between council members, with less of a hierarchy, as the council leader and committee chairs are elected by full council and all councillors belong to a decision-making committee;
· because all the councillors take part in the decision-making process, there are more points of contact through which their party members and the public can influence decisions
· as all councillors have a role in decision making, there is less reason for in-groups and out-groups to form - with the latter feeling excluded or like second-class councillors;
· with members of committees being obliged to co-operate, there is less likelihood of antagonistic factions developing;
· as every councillor has a role in decision making and seeing decisions enacted, they have collective responsibility for the council’s actions and cannot escape accountability to their party members and the public.