The Labour Group on Swale Borough Council is putting two motions to the next Full meeting of the Council on January 9th, aimed at increasing the level of democratic accountability on the Council.
For the last few years, Swale, along with nearly all other Councils in the country, has run a Cabinet system, where decisions are concentrated in a few hands and the role of most Councillors is mainly to scrutinise those decisions and to foster the wards they represent.
The Labour Group says, “there is a natural feeling right across the political groups that too many elected members are insufficiently involved in the decision making process. This means, in effect, that the people who voted for them do not have a voice in the council. That is why it is an issue of democratic accountability.
In putting forward our motions, we do not feel we are being politically partisan. This is something that matters to members of all parties. We will be the first to acknowledge that this cabinet system was brought in by a Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair. It was meant to speed up decision making, but it has made it too exclusive.
The first Labour motion proposed by Cllr Steve Worrall and seconded by Cllr Roger Truelove calls on the Council to ask the General Purposes to consider ways of increasing member involvement through a return to some form of Committee system.
The second proposed by Cllr Ghlin Whelan and seconded by Roger Truelove calls on the Council to ask General Purposes to explore ways in which the Council could devolve parts of the budget to members from the three distinct parts of Swale; so that some of the budget decisions could be made for Sheppey, Sittingbourne and Faversham.
Labour Leader Roger Truelove says
“The Council needs to consider these matters in principle. I know there are practical difficulties and how easy it is for those who want to prevent change to exploit those issues. We would expect the detailed work to be done at the General Purposes stage but for the Council to show it wants to be more inclusive.”