Here is a question. How do you want your council to be run? Do you want the people you elect in control or the officers that the Council employs? Most people tell me they want the politicians in control.
In May the opposition in Cambridgrshire forced a decision on the County Council to move to a committee system of governance rather than the current Cabinet structure. With the cabinet structure there are clear lines of political responsibility with the relevant Cabinet member being accountable for the areas for which they have responsibility,
As part of the work looking at committee structures I discovered today that with committees you are not, legally, allowed to delegate decision making to councillors, not even the chairman of a committee.
With the committee structure you have to define the levels of delegations to officers, but you are not allowed to offer any sort of delegation to the people you elect. Is that the sort of system you want?
My own view is that there is a real danger of the new system clouding responsibility and accountability. When you consider the huge safeguarding issues the County Council are responsible for through its statutory roles with vulnerable children and adults, confused accountability is the last thing we need.
We are really going to have to look at this closely.