Nottinghamshire Council to return to leader and cabinet model

Nottinghamshire Council will bring back a cabinet system of governance from May after councillors approved plans for a major shake-up of the way the authority makes decisions.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 4:13 pm

It will be the first time the authority has operated with a cabinet in a decade – councillors voted in 2012 to move to the committee operation currently in place.

It comes as the Conservative-led authority gears up for a potential devolution deal from Whitehall which could see a directly-elected mayor and combined authority set up in the East Midlands.

The Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, which sets out the framework for devolution deals, is more in favour of councils operating under a cabinet system than the committee form of governance.

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Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader and Mansfield MP, outside County Hall, the council's headquarters in West Bridgford.

It means the current committees – groups of councillors which sit and debate various council policy areas before making key decisions – will be scrapped.

They will be replaced by a cabinet comprising of Coun Ben Bradley, council leader and Mansfield MP, and nine other senior councillors, with cabinet members to have delegated powers to make major decisions.

The move was given cross-party backing, despite some opposition members raising concerns about scrutiny in the new system.

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Coun David Martin, who represents Selston, said: “I’m here to bring the benefits to my residents, for whatever brings money into Nottinghamshire, into this council.

“We will scrutinise – that’s our job as opposition, but I welcome the revenue it will bring in and hopefully will benefit all our residents.”

Coun Bradley said the new governance is an ‘ongoing process’ and will be assessed regularly to see if improvements are needed.

He said: “This change leads us to the best possible position to access devolution powers, not least because it gives us the accountability the Government seeks in terms of our structures.

“Regardless of that, it puts us in the best possible place to have a modern and effective structure of decision-making.”

The new arrangements will see scrutiny committees given call-in abilities when they believe decisions taken by the cabinet had ‘perceived procedural error’.

Cabinet members will be given final sign-off powers for decisions within their remit, with the authority to begin a delegated decision log on key changes taken by the authority.

And they will be required to regularly attend overview and scrutiny meetings to explain decisions.

Full council will still be responsible for finalising the authority’s annual budget, as well as setting members of committees and any key governance issues.

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