Suffolk: Backbench welcome for changes to county’s committee structure

Richard Kemp

Richard Kemp - Credit: Archant

Changes to the county council’s committee structure to give more power to backbenchers have been welcomed by its longest serving independent member.

Richard Kemp has represented the Melford division – centred on Long Melford – for many years, initially as a Liberal but for many years as an independent.

He is part of the Liberal Democrat group at the county council, which allows him to get some administrative support, but he says his independence is vital to allow him to represent his voters.

“There are occasions where I vote against the administration, there are occasions when I vote for them – even if the other members of the group don’t,” he said.

The new committee structure is expected to be approved at tomorrow’s annual meeting of the county council – and Mr Kemp has written to council leader Mark Bee welcoming the change which will allow the three independent councillors to have places on the new committees.

He wrote to Mr Bee saying: “I would like to place on record my appreciation of the steps you have taken to see that ALL elected members have a real involvement at Suffolk County Council.

“It is very pleasing to note that although ungrouped, my colleague and the newly elected Independent David Nettleton has been offered a Committee place.

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“In my humble opinion that is exactly as the electors of Suffolk would expect a fair minded Council to act. Well done.!

“Also I am greatly impressed with the forming of policy groups that will involve the back bench members of Suffolk County Council, these actions I am sure will enhance democracy.”

When he unveiled the new committee structure earlier this month, Mr Bee said he was aware that some backbench councillors felt they did not have a large enough role in policy-making.

The new structure will see the development of select committees helping cabinet-members to draw up policies for the departments they run.