Draft Local Government (Organisation and Standards) Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence - First Report


Memorandum by Derby City Council

  Derby City Council welcomes the publication of the draft Bill and the opportunity this gives us to comment on those issues that are particularly relevant to our local circumstances.

  The three key issues for us are:

    —  size of cabinet;

    —  clarification of scrutiny role;

    —  ceremonial mayor.


  We consider the proposal to restrict the size of the cabinet to 10 or 15 per cent, whichever is the smaller, is unduly prescriptive and penalises those councils like ours with smaller numbers of members. Derby is an urban unitary authority but has only 44 members and this proposal would restrict the size of the cabinet to six. Other similar authorities have over 60 members which would give them a cabinet of eight to 10 members. We believe it is essential that the leader of the council should have the unfettered ability to put together a cabinet which best reflects the different communities of interest within the city and the full range of services for which the council is responsible. This would be extremely difficult to achieve if the size of the cabinet size is restricted to six.


  We are also concerned about the level of prescription on the executive/representative split. We believe there is a danger that non-executive councillors could feel marginalised from the decision making process in the current proposals. We believe that the pursuit of best value is fundamental to the scrutiny role and that is where we want to direct our energies. We believe we should be free to make that choice.


  We feel strongly that any council should be able to retain a ceremonial mayor. This is a non-party political role and we do no believe it is appropriate, or practicable, for the leader of the council to take it on. Derby was granted a Charter by Charles I in 1637 and this gave us our first mayor in place of two bailiffs. The Mayor is always in public demand to attend a wide range community and civic events and, in Derby, this is a full-time role. This demanding apolitical ceremonial role is not compatible with that of a political figure. We believe Derby should have the right to choose to continue with its popular, traditional and long-standing mayoralty.

20 May 1999

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