Cabinet control of Herefordshire Council faces a survival vote

Cabinet control of Herefordshire Council could end ahead of the next local election

Cabinet control of Herefordshire Council could end ahead of the next local election

First published in News
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Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Senior Reporter

CABINET control of Herefordshire Council could be over ahead of the next local elections.

A groundbreaking motion to abolish cabinet will be put to a full council vote on September 26.

The motion is proposed by Cllr Terry James, Lib-Dem group leader, who headed the council’s first cabinet in 1999.

Support for the motion is expected from the Independent group and It’s Our County (IOC).

A combined opposition vote would defeat any Tory attempt to defend cabinet.

The Tory group currently controls the council – through cabinet – as a minority.

Should the abolition motion succeed, the council would have to prepare for the end of  cabinet ahead of the local election in May.

That will most likely mean a complete re-write of the council’s constitution.

Alternatives to cabinet include a wider ranging committee system and more voting power for the full council.

Cllr James said successive cabinets had come to forget their purpose to appear as little more than a body delegating decisions to officers rather than running the council.

“We see millions of pounds being spent on setting up new offices at Plough Lane and Hereford Shirehall while grass doesn’t get cut to save a few thousand,” he said.

Dissatisfaction with the cabinet system has simmered on the council’s “backbenches”  for some years.

 Many members believe cabinet stifles their voice and diminishes the role of ward councillor.

Equally long-running are concerns over “closed doors”  when key or sensitive decisions are discussed.

IOC leader councillor Anthony Powers said his party was already “actively exploring” alternatives to cabinet that could be presented as policy.

“There is a need to re-build the council’s decision-making processes. Cabinet leaves too many decisions to too few, more councillors should be getting a greater say in decisions,” said Cllr Powers.

Cllr Bob Matthews, Independent group leader, said his members wanted “changes in some form” to decision making ahead of the election.

Those changes, said Cllr Matthews, centred on ideas around a system that was based more around specific committees than a single cabinet – spreading the scope of representation.

Cabinet, as such, could be made up of the committee chairman with the council leader getting the casting vote, he said.

The role of scrutiny is widely seen as in need of an overhaul too.

In May, the Independents and Tories took control of the overview and scrutiny committee, ousting the IOC chairman and deputy chairman.

That move brought  fears over the political and strategic function of scrutiny - as a body specifically set up to challenge cabinet decision making – to the fore.

The concept of a cabinet was one the first executive issues to face Herefordshire Council from its start in 1998.

Then, a government white paper outlined the abolition of traditional committee and sub-committee systems, seen as diffusing responsibility and leaving voters unclear as where decision making powers lay.

The then group leaders were united on the idea of a cabinet that met only behind closed doors – as the white paper allowed.

Arguments in favour of closed doors cited the “openness” offered by mixed party scrutiny committees responsible for specific service areas.

 The Hereford Times led calls for cabinet to open its doors, but resistance to the body meeting in public continued to January 2000 ahead of a reform motion being put to full council .

That motion was headed off in the chamber, with the then council leader Cllr James  conceding that cabinet proceedings would go public.

The size of cabinet, and the roles available within it, has fluctuated since with opposition leaders allowed a say at each meeting and local members when issues specific to constituencies were discussed.

Comments (13)

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11:00am Thu 21 Aug 14

dippyhippy says...

About time!

We desperately need to get rid of this extremely unfair system, which sees those wielding the power, and making decisions which affect each and every one of us, by a small group who do not even reside in Our County.

As well as needing a more open and transparent system, we also need a drive towards accountability from those who for too long have hidden behind the "closed door" of meetings......tellin
g us time and again that they know what is best. Only to be proved, time and again, that they patently don't.

I would hope that this vote is successful, and we can see the beginning of the end, to this rule which has caused so much misery to so many people, ahead of next Mays all important election.
About time! We desperately need to get rid of this extremely unfair system, which sees those wielding the power, and making decisions which affect each and every one of us, by a small group who do not even reside in Our County. As well as needing a more open and transparent system, we also need a drive towards accountability from those who for too long have hidden behind the "closed door" of meetings......tellin g us time and again that they know what is best. Only to be proved, time and again, that they patently don't. I would hope that this vote is successful, and we can see the beginning of the end, to this rule which has caused so much misery to so many people, ahead of next Mays all important election. dippyhippy
  • Score: 28

11:27am Thu 21 Aug 14

AylestoneVoice says...

But think about this.
The majority party runs the Cabinet and holds sway, but the majority party will also have the majority vote if we go back to a committee system because it is based on proportionality.
Also a committee system will be likely to involve more meetings and more bureaucracy
A more important change would be one whereby the Council stop "outsourcing" services. Get rid of Hoople, Bright Stripe, Balfour Beatty etc.
But think about this. The majority party runs the Cabinet and holds sway, but the majority party will also have the majority vote if we go back to a committee system because it is based on proportionality. Also a committee system will be likely to involve more meetings and more bureaucracy A more important change would be one whereby the Council stop "outsourcing" services. Get rid of Hoople, Bright Stripe, Balfour Beatty etc. AylestoneVoice
  • Score: 2

12:30pm Thu 21 Aug 14

JohnBoym458 says...

Its more the transparency than the system which needs sorting. Far too much has been decided behind closed doors and far too much has gone t**s-up, costing the people of Hereford more than just money and nobody has been held accountable........
Its more the transparency than the system which needs sorting. Far too much has been decided behind closed doors and far too much has gone t**s-up, costing the people of Hereford more than just money and nobody has been held accountable........ JohnBoym458
  • Score: 13

12:40pm Thu 21 Aug 14

dippyhippy says...

I would like to think that Johnson, Morgan, Bramer et al will not stand again.
I would hope that whoever stands under whatever political colour will actually show some of the characteristics that I would like to see in local government - honesty, integrity, hell a bit of back bone wouldn't go amiss, a real need to improve Herefordshire, and a great deal of common sense.
I want money spent on protecting the vulnerable, not wasted on vanity projects such as the eight million pound archive building.
I want to see our High Town and Independent traders given some much needed assistance. I would very much like to see an end to borrowing huge sums of money that our grandchildren will still be paying for, in order to fund an incinerator which is already out dated technology.
I want an end to all this gobbled gook jargon, and have some plain speaking, which would include an admission that all of this out sourcing has actually COST us millions - not SAVED it!
I would like an end to compromise agreements and expensive pay offs, and I would like this endless recycling of folks who have failed miserably elsewhere, finding very well paid employment in Our County!

That would do very nicely for a start!
I am the first to acknowledge that difficult decisions will still have to be made - and life will be far from perfect.....but surely, to continue as we have been, is no longer an option.
I would like to think that Johnson, Morgan, Bramer et al will not stand again. I would hope that whoever stands under whatever political colour will actually show some of the characteristics that I would like to see in local government - honesty, integrity, hell a bit of back bone wouldn't go amiss, a real need to improve Herefordshire, and a great deal of common sense. I want money spent on protecting the vulnerable, not wasted on vanity projects such as the eight million pound archive building. I want to see our High Town and Independent traders given some much needed assistance. I would very much like to see an end to borrowing huge sums of money that our grandchildren will still be paying for, in order to fund an incinerator which is already out dated technology. I want an end to all this gobbled gook jargon, and have some plain speaking, which would include an admission that all of this out sourcing has actually COST us millions - not SAVED it! I would like an end to compromise agreements and expensive pay offs, and I would like this endless recycling of folks who have failed miserably elsewhere, finding very well paid employment in Our County! That would do very nicely for a start! I am the first to acknowledge that difficult decisions will still have to be made - and life will be far from perfect.....but surely, to continue as we have been, is no longer an option. dippyhippy
  • Score: 27

1:20pm Thu 21 Aug 14

DaveyJonesLocker says...

Hopefully this will finally mean Bye Bye Tony, thanks for all the damage you and your party have caused the people of herefordshire. So many millions wasted on their own ventures that us, the taxpayer have had to suffer.
Hopefully this will finally mean Bye Bye Tony, thanks for all the damage you and your party have caused the people of herefordshire. So many millions wasted on their own ventures that us, the taxpayer have had to suffer. DaveyJonesLocker
  • Score: 14

3:00pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Mr.Herefordian says...

Committees do let every one have a say but who is going to take control after the next election? The Liberals will probably be finished off as lots of voters vote on what happens nationally, Clegg factor. Tory's they will always have a following from locals and incomers in rural Herefordshire. IOC they lost out on their opposition to the new shopping area, they don't want new roads, if they had sensible policy's for the county they could do well. Herefordshire Independents they always seem a little behind the rest would they join in with the Tory's again. The Greens, well you know what you get from this group, they never change, nothing wrong with this.
Committees do let every one have a say but who is going to take control after the next election? The Liberals will probably be finished off as lots of voters vote on what happens nationally, Clegg factor. Tory's they will always have a following from locals and incomers in rural Herefordshire. IOC they lost out on their opposition to the new shopping area, they don't want new roads, if they had sensible policy's for the county they could do well. Herefordshire Independents they always seem a little behind the rest would they join in with the Tory's again. The Greens, well you know what you get from this group, they never change, nothing wrong with this. Mr.Herefordian
  • Score: -3

4:50pm Thu 21 Aug 14

flamboyant says...

Well said Cllr James, 100% accurate! Particularly the statement about 'delegating decisions to officers rather than running the Council' the only omission being that the officers they were delegating those powers to were self serving and not qualified to do the job! We've been waiting for one good man to come forward to stop this madness! There is a need for openness and transparency, which will enable public scrutiny of the decision making process, there is a huge knowledge pool within Herefordshire it's time to start using it!
Well said Cllr James, 100% accurate! Particularly the statement about 'delegating decisions to officers rather than running the Council' the only omission being that the officers they were delegating those powers to were self serving and not qualified to do the job! We've been waiting for one good man to come forward to stop this madness! There is a need for openness and transparency, which will enable public scrutiny of the decision making process, there is a huge knowledge pool within Herefordshire it's time to start using it! flamboyant
  • Score: 8

7:24pm Thu 21 Aug 14

probono says...

What a turn about from the Fat Controller who with his secret seven cabinet of Telly Tubbies met in secret and advocated the Cabnet system as the only one for Herefordshire. Hoping for power again perhaps ? The Lib Dums are dead and buried right across the Country afte next May. My fear is the cost of the new Constitution the commitee system is more expensive to run with Councillors attendace allowances, officer time and admin. We need to make sure that Herefordshire Council works within its means in future. This may mean sharing services with another Authority like Shropshire.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, this is a decision that needs a local referndum to decide the future of our Council.
What a turn about from the Fat Controller who with his secret seven cabinet of Telly Tubbies met in secret and advocated the Cabnet system as the only one for Herefordshire. Hoping for power again perhaps ? The Lib Dums are dead and buried right across the Country afte next May. My fear is the cost of the new Constitution [ more consultants??] the commitee system is more expensive to run with Councillors attendace allowances, officer time and admin. We need to make sure that Herefordshire Council works within its means in future. This may mean sharing services with another Authority like Shropshire. Whatever the outcome of the vote, this is a decision that needs a local referndum to decide the future of our Council. probono
  • Score: 6

9:31pm Thu 21 Aug 14

saidflo says...

Change for the better we can hope.

The article is not clear to me - does Cllr James say the cabinet should delegate to senior officers or does he say cabinet should run the council?

I'd be interested in hearing more background. It is complex and knowing the best way forward is not easy.
That said, IMO, the sooner the present gullible, out of touch, heartless lot are away from power the better.
Change for the better we can hope. The article is not clear to me - does Cllr James say the cabinet should delegate to senior officers or does he say cabinet should run the council? I'd be interested in hearing more background. It is complex and knowing the best way forward is not easy. That said, IMO, the sooner the present gullible, out of touch, heartless lot are away from power the better. saidflo
  • Score: 4

12:09pm Fri 22 Aug 14

TheCynic2 says...

Taxpayers of Herefordshire need to ask why the Council paid out thousands and thousands of pounds to a defunct company to carry out work on Herefordshire properties and what action it is taking to recover the monies that were fraudulently obtained by the defunct company.
Taxpayers of Herefordshire need to ask why the Council paid out thousands and thousands of pounds to a defunct company to carry out work on Herefordshire properties and what action it is taking to recover the monies that were fraudulently obtained by the defunct company. TheCynic2
  • Score: 3

12:14pm Fri 22 Aug 14

TheCynic2 says...

JohnBoym458 wrote:
Its more the transparency than the system which needs sorting. Far too much has been decided behind closed doors and far too much has gone t**s-up, costing the people of Hereford more than just money and nobody has been held accountable........
If you see my comment (cynic2) you will see how right you are about things being arranged behind closed doors.
[quote][p][bold]JohnBoym458[/bold] wrote: Its more the transparency than the system which needs sorting. Far too much has been decided behind closed doors and far too much has gone t**s-up, costing the people of Hereford more than just money and nobody has been held accountable........[/p][/quote]If you see my comment (cynic2) you will see how right you are about things being arranged behind closed doors. TheCynic2
  • Score: 2

1:01pm Fri 22 Aug 14

bobby47 says...

If I only had the pulling power of Jesus of Nazareth. I'd deliver me own Sermon on the Mount. I'd call it, me Sermon outside the Commercial after I'd supped a dozen pints of ale.
And if, before I started gibbering on about what I was and wasn't going to do to put this Council back on a footing that was driven by common sense and a sincere desire not to get rich off of our money, they started howling, 'give us bread and fish , I'd say, 'get stuffed. Have a Scratching, get yourself a pint and listen to this'.
And then I'd start. First up bloody Gagging Payments. I'd tell them, there'll be no more of those under the table keep your mouth shut payments on my watch. No more. When I dismiss them I'll tell them, 'you ain't getting any of our money. Be gone. Go tell the world for all I care. I couldn't care less.
Then, and at this stage the mob are howling, 'hallelujah. Peace be upon him. We are saved', I'd tell them that for hereon I was going to cut the cord on all the arms length companies they'd created so that we couldn't find our what was going on'. Course, by this time, the bloody throng is multiplying and they want feeding, so I tell them, 'there's the bloody kebab shop. Go get yourself a lovely Donna and a portion of chips.
Then I tell them, I'm going to sack eighty percent of the suits who hover around Plough Lane creating confusion, gimmicks, blue sky thinking and vanity projects that only ever lead to vast haemorraging of public funds and no benefit to you and I. Course, now there screaming, 'he must be the messiah. Hallelujah! Hoorah, give us the bloody, give us the Holy Spirit and tell us more.
Then I tell them, there'll be no bloody more funding or contract signings to Balfour Beattie, Halo, Hoople and a raft of others who we feed every day of the week. From hereon, we are going to provide Direct Services and do it ourselves. It'll save us millions.
Then, before I leave there presence and float away back into the Commercial for another dozen pints, I tell them, 'now go and find our current Cabinet, drag them up to Haugh Woods and roll them round in nettles for twenty minutes and teach them a lesson that they'll never forget'.
Then, before I left them on my spiritual journey getting smashed out of my fat face on ale and swallowing enough diazepam to stun a small pony off Hay Bluff, I'd cry, 'we are no longer prepared to be ruled by this Council Cabinet, Common Purpose and big business that strips us of our wealth and future economic prosperity. We are fighting back and we want true democratic leadership based upon a desire to serve rather than be served.
If I only had the pulling power of Jesus of Nazareth. I'd deliver me own Sermon on the Mount. I'd call it, me Sermon outside the Commercial after I'd supped a dozen pints of ale. And if, before I started gibbering on about what I was and wasn't going to do to put this Council back on a footing that was driven by common sense and a sincere desire not to get rich off of our money, they started howling, 'give us bread and fish , I'd say, 'get stuffed. Have a Scratching, get yourself a pint and listen to this'. And then I'd start. First up bloody Gagging Payments. I'd tell them, there'll be no more of those under the table keep your mouth shut payments on my watch. No more. When I dismiss them I'll tell them, 'you ain't getting any of our money. Be gone. Go tell the world for all I care. I couldn't care less. Then, and at this stage the mob are howling, 'hallelujah. Peace be upon him. We are saved', I'd tell them that for hereon I was going to cut the cord on all the arms length companies they'd created so that we couldn't find our what was going on'. Course, by this time, the bloody throng is multiplying and they want feeding, so I tell them, 'there's the bloody kebab shop. Go get yourself a lovely Donna and a portion of chips. Then I tell them, I'm going to sack eighty percent of the suits who hover around Plough Lane creating confusion, gimmicks, blue sky thinking and vanity projects that only ever lead to vast haemorraging of public funds and no benefit to you and I. Course, now there screaming, 'he must be the messiah. Hallelujah! Hoorah, give us the bloody, give us the Holy Spirit and tell us more. Then I tell them, there'll be no bloody more funding or contract signings to Balfour Beattie, Halo, Hoople and a raft of others who we feed every day of the week. From hereon, we are going to provide Direct Services and do it ourselves. It'll save us millions. Then, before I leave there presence and float away back into the Commercial for another dozen pints, I tell them, 'now go and find our current Cabinet, drag them up to Haugh Woods and roll them round in nettles for twenty minutes and teach them a lesson that they'll never forget'. Then, before I left them on my spiritual journey getting smashed out of my fat face on ale and swallowing enough diazepam to stun a small pony off Hay Bluff, I'd cry, 'we are no longer prepared to be ruled by this Council Cabinet, Common Purpose and big business that strips us of our wealth and future economic prosperity. We are fighting back and we want true democratic leadership based upon a desire to serve rather than be served. bobby47
  • Score: 8

1:20pm Fri 22 Aug 14

Mr.Herefordian says...

The Cabinet decided to buy German rubbish bins so that this small group can change our collections to a fortnightly service, but I read that Pickles is considering making it law that councils have to collect weekly.
Obviously the Cabinet don't bother to find out what their Tory Government is up to but our Tory MPs should know, perhaps when they returne from their three month holidays they might take time to speak to Pickles.
Come on you Tory's it's election time soon.
The Cabinet decided to buy German rubbish bins so that this small group can change our collections to a fortnightly service, but I read that Pickles is considering making it law that councils have to collect weekly. Obviously the Cabinet don't bother to find out what their Tory Government is up to but our Tory MPs should know, perhaps when they returne from their three month holidays they might take time to speak to Pickles. Come on you Tory's it's election time soon. Mr.Herefordian
  • Score: 6

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