Memorandum by Councillor Margaret Begg,
Warwick District Council (LAG 03)
I refer to your Press Notice on Local Authority
Governance and, on behalf of the Leader of the Council`s Executive,
Councillor Margaret Begg, I would submit the following comments.
1. Whilst the decision making process is
faster on the Executive, accountability has not been improved
as the Council is a balanced authority and has decided that that
balance will be reflected on the Executive. The Executive/Scrutiny
division of responsibilities may well work with one Party in overall
control. It does not, however, work well in a balanced Authority.
2. There is also a real difficulty in achieving
greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in local government
in an area where there are two tiers of local government. The
public do not understand (nor care) which Authority provides a
particular service and does not know which Authority is accountable.
3. Non-Executive Councillors feel marginalised
and many do not get any satisfaction from the role of Scrutiny.
The division between officers and members has increased significantly
and the local electorate is confused by the fact that not all
Councillors are involved in day-to-day decision making and by
arbitrary distinctions between County and District responsibilities.
4. The Scrutiny Committees have struggled
to find a clear role but this may improve with time. Best Value
is an important duty but undertaking fundamental reviews is not
a sufficiently satisfactory role for non-Executive members. The
representational role of non-Executive members outside the Town
Hall is still seen as quite separate to committee work.
5. In an Authority with no overall control
and an all Party Executive, the call-in system does not work very
well and Scrutiny is unlikely to be very keen to hold the Executive
6. The disadvantage of having a Mayor in
Warwick District is that we already have four Town Mayors, a Chairman
of the District Council and a Chairman of the County Council.
To have a directly elected Mayor with specific powers in the same
area as ceremonial Mayors would be very confusing.
The advantage of having a Mayor is that there
would be clear accountability and responsibility. However, in
a local authority area with four towns and a significant rural
area a directly elected Mayor will always be seen as favouring
the town or area which elected them.
There are issues also about the concentration
of power in the hands of one person, whether that person would
have the necessary skills and the opportunity for secrecy and