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Suffolk council criticised for changing governance structure

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Politics news

A change in the way Mid Suffolk District Council is governed was passed last night by 23 votes to 10.

The council says moving from a committee system to a cabinet model of governance will ensure greater levels of ‘openness, transparency and collaboration’.

But this has been disputed by Green Party and Liberal Democrat opposition councillors who claim it will in fact make decision making less efficient.

Green councillor Rachel Eburne, chair of the council’s scrutiny committee explained: “In the cabinet system, the only way members outside the cabinet will be able to debate a decision will be by ‘calling it in’ to scrutiny. By doing this a decision is then put on hold while the committee debates it – thus lengthening the time in which a decision is put into action. Decision making will be less efficient.”

“A cabinet system involves no collaboration with other members of the council,” she added. “Decisions are taken by cabinet members and there is no requirement to consult.”

Echoing her concerns, Cllr Penny Otton, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat Group, said: “Just because the Tories in Babergh can smell total power why does Mid Suffolk need to change its modus operandi, a system that in my opinion has worked perfectly well for years?”

Cllr Nick Gowrley, leader of Mid Suffolk,pointed out the council was one of only two in Suffolk currently operating under the committee system and said adopting the leader/cabinet model would put it in a better position to represent Mid Suffolk within the ‘Suffolk system’.

He added: “The whole purpose of the change is to ensure we have even greater levels of openness, transparency and collaboration by having increased accountability to our residents and a much stronger scrutiny committee which will be chaired by a member of the opposition. It will also mean we will have a more efficient and agile decision making process, making it easier for both councillors and officers to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Mid Suffolk.”

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