Nottinghamshire County Council cabinet to meet for first time in a decade after governance overhaul

A cabinet meeting will be held at Nottinghamshire County Council for the first time in a decade after councillors approved a major overhaul of how the authority makes decisions.

By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 13th May 2022, 11:23 am

The council has shifted from the committee system to a leader and cabinet model from this month as it gears up for potential new powers through devolution.

The decision, taken in March, came 10 years after the authority moved away from the same governance structure in 2012 in what council papers described as the ‘best-suited local circumstances’.

However, the Conservative-led council now says changing back to the cabinet system will provide ‘maximum flexibility’ when negotiating with the Government for a devolution deal and will lead to ‘more efficient and effective decision making’.

Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader and member for Mansfield North and Mansfield MP, outside County Hall, the council's headquarters in West Bridgford.

It marks a big change in the way decisions are taken within County Hall, moving away from cross-party committees making key decisions on a raft of council policies.

The remits of cabinet members will broadly reflect the portfolios held by previous committee chairmen, with most committees now disbanded.

Portfolios include transport and environment, finance, adult social care and public health, children and families, communities, personnel, transformation, business management, and economic development and asset management.

Now it has been confirmed the first meeting of the new cabinet will be held on Thursday, May 26, with Coun Ben Bradley, council leader, saying it will be an ‘effective structure’ for decision-making.

He said: “This change leads us to the best possible position to access devolution powers, not least because it gives us the accountability the Government seeks in terms of our structures.

“Regardless of that, it puts us in the best possible place to have a modern and effective structure of decision-making.”

Coun Bradley will lead and chair the cabinet meetings, with the group made up of himself and nine other senior councillors.

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Assistants

The latest full council meeting heard there will be deputy cabinet roles for other councillors within the ruling Conservative Group, who will act as assistants to the portfolio holders.

Further scrutiny committees will also take place within the authority to monitor the actions and decisions of the executive.

Labour members, however, abstained on the vote to endorse the leader-cabinet model.

Coun Kate Foale, Labour Group leader, speaking afterwards, said: “We respect the results of last year’s election, but there is a big difference between accepting the result and endorsing a leader who, in his dual role as MP, is making decisions locally like cutting core funding to the Citizens Advice Bureau that are pushing families in this county to the brink, and also supporting a Government who are ripping up the Nolan principles of standards in public life with the scandalous recent behaviour in Westminster and the seemingly endless fines issued over Covid lockdown parties at Downing Street.

“The people of Nottinghamshire deserve better and we are working hard to see that this leader and cabinet are thoroughly scrutinised until the next elections, when we hope to deliver a Labour council in 2025.”

Full council will still be responsible for finalising the authority’s annual budget, as well as setting members of committees and any key governance issues.

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