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:
clarification of scrutiny role;
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