Parties clash over Stroud District Council's reform to a committee system

DECISION making at Stroud District Council will be based on a system of committees from May of next year.

Councillors voted to introduce the new system at a meeting of the council last Thursday after several hours of debate.

The proposal to shelve the current leader-and-cabinet system and replace it with a more inclusive committee system was made by SDC's ruling alliance of Labour, Lib Dems and Greens but was vehemently opposed by the opposition Conservative group.

The option for the council to change to the committee system from the current arrangements was introduced in the Localism Act 2011.

Cllr Keith Pearson, (Con, Upton St Leonards) leader of the Tory group, said committees were an inefficient and ineffective way of getting things done.

"Decisions will be tardy and items will get debated to death," he said. "Councillors will be able to hide behind collective decision making and the system will be officer-led."

The committee system was voted in, along party lines, by a majority of 26 to 19, with one abstention.

Leader of the council Geoff Wheeler (Lab, Dursley), said: "The current arrangements, which will continue until May next year, mean that a council leader and a small number of councillors who make up an executive drawn from the Labour, Lib Dem and Green groups, are responsible for a large number of important decisions.

"This means that many councillors from all political parties are unable to make valuable contributions on important issues."

Between now and the council’s annual general meeting in May a working group will be set up to finalise the structure of the new system.

Cllr Wheeler added: "The new system we have introduced will engage more councillors in decision making and ensure that all 51 of them are able to contribute their talents.

"It will lead to more considered, balanced and higher quality decision making which will benefit the district as a whole, and I’m looking forward to working closely with all councillors to achieve those aims."

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