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Councillor calls for change to decision process
CALLS are being made to shake-up councils in Worcestershire by returning to the long-forgotten committee
Councillor Alan Amos, a Labour city and county councillor, says many politicians are feeling “alienated and disengaged” and are yearning to turn back the clock.
In 2000 the Government decided to scrap the committee system and instruct town halls to use cabinet models of leadership to mimic Westminster.
All councils in Worcestershire now use the cabinet model, where about half a dozen politicians from the biggest party make the majority of decisions.
Coun Amos said: “Many councillors feel excluded from decision making, they feel alienated and disengaged and I believe this is quite serious.
“I worry about the future of local government. All councils have pools of experienced, talented people which is just going to waste.
“The current system is so exclusive, all it does is keep people out.”
The Labour politician, who first entered politics in 1978, experienced the old committee system at Enfield Borough Council and says it should be adopted again.
“I do think local government was better back then – I would go as far as saying the majority are disengaged now,” he said.
Under the Localism Act councils are allowed to revert back to committee systems of decision making if they wish.
Over the last year only authorities in Brighton, Newark and Sherwood, Nottingham and Kingston-pon-Thames have gone down that route.
Coun Clive Smith, a member of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “I agree – the committee system worked fine and we were pushed into this new one by central Government.
“People thought it would be more efficient but all it does is leave backbenchers out. There’s certainly merit in what he is saying, I think it should be looked at.”
Other politicians said there was no need to make the change.
Coun Ron Davis, cabinet member for health at Wychavon District Council, said: “With the current system decisions can be made fairly rapidly – I suspect the old system was quite cumbersome and not at all efficient.”
Coun Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: “I don’t think it is top of my list of priorities at the moment.”
Coun Geoff Williams, who serves on the city council, said: “I’ve worked under both and the old system is a bit of a myth.”