Barnet councillors voted unanimously at an ‘extraordinary’ council meeting last week to change the council’s constitution and formally move from a committee system of governance to a cabinet and scrutiny system.
The move has been described as integral to the Council administration’s commitment to ensure decision-making is more transparent, efficient, and accountable. It is also part of a package of new constitutional measures to help increase public participation in local democracy.
These new measures include:
- Public Question Time at Full Council meetings;
- Introducing deputations from residents on matters of local concern at Cabinet meetings; and
- Engaging residents in the scrutiny of local services.
The change to an executive system will officially be implemented after the Annual Council Meeting on 23 May 2023, but as of yesterday (Thursday 11 May), the new constitution is available for viewing by residents and other interested parties. This is part of the formal change process.
The constitution is on physical display at the council offices at 2 Bristol Avenue, Colindale, and Hendon Town Hall. It can be viewed between the hours of 9am-5pm at those two sites. It is also available online on the council website.
Barnet Council Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings, said: “The decision to adopt a cabinet and scrutiny system of governance marks an important shift in the way the council operates.
“It will mean more regular decision-making to ensure we are delivering our huge transformation agenda, and more opportunities for public participation when policy is being developed, when decisions are being made and when services are being scrutinised.
“It will also ensure all the decision-makers are around one table which will allow us to focus on key cross-cutting priorities such as reducing inequalities and promoting sustainability.
“This move demonstrates our commitment to being a more efficient and effective council that can better serve the needs of Barnet residents.”
The new cabinet and scrutiny system will be led by a cabinet of up to 10 councillors, who will be appointed by the full council. The cabinet will be responsible for setting the council’s strategic direction and making key decisions on behalf of the council.
A new scrutiny committee will be established to hold the cabinet to account. The scrutiny committee will be made up of councillors from all parties and will have the power to investigate the work of the cabinet and make recommendations for improvement.
The council said they are committed to working with residents and other stakeholders to ensure that the new system meets the needs of the local community.