Fylde Council has now decided how it will arrange its business under the Committee System of operation.
The new system will come into being after the election in May 2015.
Overall, that's an improvement. It has restored the meeting of the Full Council to be the supreme decision-taking body. The referendum decision has fixed that for at least the next ten years.
But the way Fylde BC proposes to work in detail is not what the public of Fylde called for. Nor are we able to say it is a good implementation of the Committee system - because it is not.
True to form, the majority Conservative group (who opposed the idea of changing back to the committee system altogether, and actively campaigned against it) did not take on board the comments made by the
public during the Consultation period.
Nor were they able to agree (with the other political parties and the independent councillors) how the details of the Committee System should be operated.
Instead, they appear to have used their majority vote on the Council to implement an
arrangement that we believe will promote control and conflict - maximising their party political advantage, rather than finding ways to bring harmony and consensus to decision-making.
So the most contentious decisions - on which no agreement could be reached - have been delayed. They will now be taken by the new Council - elected after the change to Committee Governance in May
The main differences between what is proposed and what the public called for, are to do with how decisions are to be made, and how many places there will be on each of the committees.
- People we spoke with during the petition and referendum campaigns all said they wanted the full Council to take the decisions - so that the Councillors they had elected had the right to speak, and the right to
vote, on all decisions made in the Council's name.
- They also said they wanted their elected councillor to have the right to speak at any of the Committee meetings, and for a proper representation as the make-up on each committees.
What the Conservative majority pushed through was:
Committees will have delegated authority to take final decisions unless:
- Ten or more councillors assent to, and cause, a 'Referral' which would see the matter removed from the Committee's agenda and sent to Full Council for debate and decision. There will be time limits to effect a
Referral, most likely from the date of publication of the Committee agenda to the day before the Committee Meeting.
- Ten or more councillors call for, and assent to the 'Recovery' of a decision that has been taken by a Committee. This would make the decision not implementable until the matter had been debated by the Full
Council meeting. Again a time limit will apply, and it is most likely to be ten days from the date of the Committee decision.
The number of seats on each committee also reached a 'failure to agree.' An intransigent Conservative majority wanted to have Committee sizes that would maximise their political advantage. Councillors from other
parties and Independents wanted each councillor to have a seat on at least two programme committees.
The actual decisions are in the minutes of the Council meeting of 1st December. Please follow this link to download to the minutes and the original report and appendices
for full information
There are several other aspects of the detailed arrangements that we regard as unsatisfactory. But, of course, there is an election in May, and it is possible that the Conservative majority will not be the same after the election. If that happens, there could be changes made to the arrangements as to how the
Committee system will work even before the present incarnation has had chance to bed in.
So we will have to wait and see how things pan out after May.