Beware snake in the grass with Brentwood council cabinet plan

September 17, 2008 1:43 PM
By Karen Chilvers in Brentwood Gazette

You should now have received the Conservative proposal to move to a cabinet system with a leader and executive. If you don't think that a change to the cabinet proposal will affect you, then read on to appreciate what it would mean in everyday terms.

Supposing that someone wants to draw double yellow lines all over your road and you don't want them, for good solid reasons. Today, you have the opportunity to contact me and I can refer this to committee for debate. I can speak up on your behalf, put your case forward, speak to your neighbours and work with you to find a solution to present at the committee. Hopefully, as ward councillor, other members, from all sides of the political spectrum, will respect the knowledge I have about my ward and I may try to convince them to go with an alternative route.

This decision will be made in a public chamber, available to view on the internet.

Under the cabinet system, this won't happen. The decision will be made by one person, who could reside anywhere in the borough. From my point of view, elected as representative for Brentwood West, how well will they know the people who live there and their everyday issues? Every ward is different, and every ward has its own needs, this is the strength in a committee/panel system …we all get heard.

The Conservative administration will tell you that there will be an opportunity for scrutiny with members able to call items into a scrutiny panel. Well, that's where we find the 'snake in the grass'… they haven't put this out for public consultation because they tell us they haven't decided on it yet. Surely this is a crucial part of the process. So, if you vote for their option one, you haven't even been told the detail of what you're voting for.

Remember also, there are only nine opposition members in total. We could have a situation where 10 members have to call an item in to the scrutiny panel - which Tory member would be brave enough to back us up in that situation?

They will also tell you that this will enable "quick" decisions. Can you honestly say that the quickest decisions you make are always the right ones?

If you want to stop this, you must let us know. With 28 Conservatives and nine opposition members the people of Brentwood must rise up and tell us their views! Sign our petition on www.brentwood-ongar libdems.org.uk or fill in the consultation document and choose OPTION THREE to retain the committee and panel structure.

Cllr Karen Chilvers

Lib Dem councillor Brentwood West Ward