CALLS for a working group to be set up to look into scrapping West Lancs council’s ‘leader and cabinet’ system and returning to a ‘committee system’ of management were rejected.
Cllr Bob Pendleton brought a motion on behalf of the Labour group, suggesting setting up a cross- party working group to look into the possible change.
Changing the governance system is one of a raft of provisions set out for councils to consider in the draft Localism Act 2011.
At full council last Wednesday, Cllr Pendleton said reverting to the committee system would allow back benchers to have more input into the decision-making process, improve scrutiny and make for a more transparent and open way of working.
Under the system in use in West Lancs the leader – currently Cllr Ian Grant – is selected by the largest party who then appoints a cabinet to make key decisions.
The Labour group said that the cabinet system had stifled open debate in the chamber and allowed for decisions to be made in “near secrecy without reference to proper scrutiny” by cross-party back bench councillors.
Labour councillor John Hodson said that in the current system there was a “serious disconnect” between back benchers and cabinet.
But council leader, Cllr Ian Grant, said the motion was a case of Labour trying to set the council agenda and said the current system allowed for items to be called in for scrutiny and the Conservative adminstration was “not frightened of hearing it”.
He urged members to reject the motion but said that rejecting calls for a working group to be set up “does not mean our minds and eyes are shut. At the moment it is not appropriate but it is not off our agenda.”