The papers for Cabinet have been published and it is official that Cabinet are recommending the end of the area committees, see paper here. In response to the Neighbourhood Governance panel’s recommendations the Cabinet are proposing some core principles:
- Any new structure for neighbourhood governance in the borough is centred around ward councillors
- That £40k of capital funding is made available to each ward and that this is expended taking into account the recommendations of ward councillors, who will utilise and develop informal and formal networks to consult local people
- The current Area Committee structures are abolished and their community involvement role is transferred to ward councillors
- Where cross-ward initiatives or projects are being considered, councillors from different wards will be encouraged to work together to develop bespoke consultative arrangements and make joint recommendations
Given our experience with the Northfield ward forum I think this will go a long way to making local government more engaging and relevant for local people. The £40K capital budget will allow councillors to do some interesting things in their neighbourhood.
In Northfield we have three tip top councillors (I would say that) and we are enthusiastic to take on this additional task. I am sure there are a lot of councillors who will feel that this is an extra burden. The public will be able to see their councillors in action very directly and judge their performance on some really close-to-home issues. Where the three ward councillors come from different parties, what we call split wards, the public will measure them by their ability to work together. Interesting times for some.