Tendring: Scrutiny committees ‘politically-loaded’ says councillor

Tendring District Council leader Peter Halliday

Tendring District Council leader Peter Halliday - Credit: Contributed

AN INDEPENDENT Tendring councillor is calling for a radical overhaul of the way in which major decisions are made at the district authority.

Joy Broderick, who represents Haven ward in Holland-on-Sea, said she wants to see all decisions go though a committee first and then to full council, by-passing the authority’s cabinet altogether.

Ms Broderick said there were a number of scrutiny committees at Tendring District Council. However, she claimed they were too “politically loaded”.

An alternative to a committee-led system would be to keep a cabinet – but with members being made up of leaders of each political group, she said.

Mrs Broderick has put forward a motion to consider a return to a “modified committee system of government, abandoning the present cabinet system and involving all council members much more” and is set to be discussed at Tendring District Council’s cabinet meeting tomorrow.

Ms Broderick said: “Councillors who put themselves up for election work hard then, when they get to council, they find it’s only the party who has the majority that calls all the shots and shoot down anything we suggest.

“At the moment I am being excluded from meetings being held between the council and health bosses over plans for the new Holland-on-Sea surgery.

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“The two last administrations had more cross-party involvement but with this cabinet you just feel you’re not part of any decision-making. It’s outdated and has got to go.”

But council leader Peter Halliday rejected claims that councillors from different political groups were excluded and said work was already under way to look at a hybrid cabinet system.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked at these claims,” he said. “I dispute that wholeheartedly. The council is more inclusive than it has ever been before.

“Since we have been in power we have an opposition councillor chairing a scrutiny committee and all members are very much included and welcomed.

“Independent councillor Michael Talbot, who sits at cabinet meetings, has influence when he sits at the table.”

Mr Halliday added that of 16 reports discussed in January, none were called-in by opposition councillors and less than 20 councillors had confirmed their attendance at an all-member briefing to discuss Tendring’s economic development strategy today.

Leader of the Labour opposition, Ivan Henderson, said: “I believe the old committee system was a lot more inclusive and councillors felt they had more of a say and played more of a part.

“I’m not sure that it’s right such a small majority should control the council as they do.

“But I do respect that the administration does have the right to oversee what policies are made, perhaps just with more input from others.”