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Why it may be time to scrap Birmingham council cabinet

Why it may be time to scrap Birmingham council cabinet

🕔29.Apr 2013

houseJohn Clancy will examine the possibility of scrapping the cabinet in favour of a return to the committee system of local government if he becomes Birmingham City Council leader.

The challenger for the Labour group leadership is promising to establish a commission to decide whether housing, finance and transportation committees, which last operated in 2001, would “be a better way of running the city” by involving many more people in decision making.

It’s believed the suggestion, which has been floated informally with colleagues by Cllr Clancy, has gained a broad measure of support from councillors who feel that the cabinet system inevitably results in decisions being taken by a very small number of politicians.

A clause in the Local Government Act allows councils to return to the committee system as an alternative to cabinet if they have rejected the idea of having a directly elected mayor.

Birmingham would become the first major city to go back to committees, which were scrapped by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1997 on the grounds that a cabinet and leader system would result in swifter decision making.

Cllr Clancy will stand against Sir Albert Bore for the leadership of the council’s controlling Labour group and if he wins at the group’s annual meeting on May 11 he will become council leader.

In a detailed policy statement sent to senior councillors, Clancy is promising to give backbench Labour councillors and ward parties across the city more involvement before decisions are taken. He has said he intends to “put Labour politics back into the Labour group”.

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