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The New Committees

The New CommitteesEncouraging (well at least at the start).

That was our impression of the first couple of meetings under the new committee system which is now in operation at Fylde.

Sadly, it went downhill rapidly, and by the end of the cycle of meetings, we were much less hopeful.

We couldn't get to all the meetings, but we did manage most of the 'new' Committees, and it's those we report in this septuple of articles.

In terms of the new arrangements now in place, readers will remember that Fylde had decided not to return to the tried and tested system of old, but have implemented a different version, and (as we said in 'Only Five More Cabinets'), we did not think the revised administrative system would be as good as the original was.

We saw nothing to change that view from watching the first cycle of meetings.

But the new system is workable, and if it continues in the vein it started, we believe the return of the committee system will have been worthwhile.

What it seems to come down to is the governance culture created by the people who are selected to chair the Committees.

We had worried that those who had opposed the re-introduction of Committees might use a variety of spoiling tactics to make a mess of things under the new system.

For example, we worried there might be almost complete delegations of decisions to officers, (which could allow the majority group to influence them behind the scenes - outside of the committee meetings).

We though we might see the creation of lots of 'Working Groups' in an attempt to by-pass the requirement for Committees to be politically balanced and to take the real decisions behind closed doors - only to be announced at the Committee meeting and voted through there by prior agreement using the voting weight of the majority party (as many of the Cabinet decisions were treated).

We also worried that agendas might be limited to the less important decisions.

This concern was not eased by the publication of the first set of agendas, which showed (for most of the new committees) that they comprised very simple and non-controversial items.

But as far as the first two meetings went, we're happy to say that such fears were unfounded.

We also welcomed the fact that the Public Platform has been retained as a feature of Committees. This allows a few members of the public to speak for up to 3 minutes at the start of the meeting if they wish to do so. In fact, this opportunity has been widened.

Under the Cabinet System speakers were limited to the topics on the agenda of that meeting, but the Committee system is offering a wider remit, with the opportunity to speak about any matter within the remit of that Committee.

So it was that we went along to each of the new committees to see what went on for our readers

We plan to keep track of the way the committees and the arrangements evolve, and we expect to bring readers further news from time to time.

Dated:   20 July 2015


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