Memorandum by Sir Michael Lyons (LAG 30)
Its main purpose is to indicate that I would
be more than willing, if the Committee thought it would be of
assistance, to appear before the Committee to give oral evidence
on at least one of the specific topics identified in the Press
Notice, namely the likely impact of new executive arrangements,
under Part II of the Local Government Act 2000, on the role of
local authority officers.
By way of background, I should explain that
Birmingham City Council is the largest
"all purpose" local authority in the UK.
the City Council has been operating,
since January 2000, an interim "New Constitution" which
was designed to anticipate many of the changes which are now embodied
in the 2000 Act. In particular, the interim arrangements incorporate
(a) a Cabinet (although not as a formal decision making body),
(b) a range of Scrutiny Committees, together with a Scrutiny Management
Board and (c) a re-defined role for the full Council (including
responsibility for approving the Council's "policy framework").
towards the end of 1999, the City
Council established a Democracy Commission comprising a mixture
of City Councillors and independent persons and chaired by Sir
Adrian Cadbury. The Commission undertook extensive consultation
on various aspects of local governance and presented their final
report to the City Council in mid 2000.
whilst the Democracy Commission remained
strictly neutral on the issue of whether Birmingham should have
an Elected Mayor, one of their principal recommendations (based
on the results of their consultation) to the City Council was
that this issue should be put to the citizens of Birmingham by
way of a referendum.
in September 2000, the City Council
effectively committed itself to holding a referendum (in accordance
with the 2000 Act) on the Elected Mayor issue at a suitable date.
Such a referendum is now likely to be held in September or October
in anticipation of this, the City
Council is currently engaged in the detailed design of two alternative
Constitutions, which will serve as the "proposals" and
the "fall back proposals" for the purposes of the referendum.
The "proposals" will be based on an Elected Mayor/Cabinet
model and the "fall back proposals" are likely to be
based on a Leader/Cabinet model.
one of the many issues now under
consideration is the implications for the senior officer structure
of the City Council. This consideration is informed by the fact
that I have already agreed with the City Council that I shall
be retiring from my present post at the end of September 2001.
Sir Michael Lyons