More people will be able and encouraged to shape local decision-making in Croydon under new plans to change the council’s constitution and structure, for the first time in a generation.
An independent review, commissioned by Croydon Council to boost participation in local democracy and ensure decision-making is open, fair and transparent, today (21 February) published a raft of recommendations for council approval on 2 March.
If agreed, Croydon will implement an innovative new ‘hybrid’ council system that aims to combine the best of the leader and cabinet model with the committee system. New cabinet member advisory committees will provide backbench councillors with the opportunity to contribute at an earlier stage, before decisions are taken.
Other recommendations include changing the way council meetings are run, giving members of the public and councillors more time to speak, to making it easier to search for information on the council website and new neighbourhood forums.
Croydon’s Independent Review of Governance has been carried out by a cross-party panel of councillors established in 2019 and led by independent chair Dame Moira Gibb.
More than a thousand residents, 60 current and retired councillors from different political parties, local MPs and eight strategic partners took part in the consultation, which included workshops with 50 councillors.
The panel benefitted from expert witness sessions with other local authorities to seek out best practice, and received expert support from the Centre for Public Scrutiny and the Local Government Association (LGA)’s Planning Advisory Service.
The panel’s report and recommendations can be read in full here, along with the council report. If approved, a working group of councillors will be set up to implement the changes. The new structure will be written into the council constitution this summer with full implementation in 2021.
“The democratic link between the community, the council and its leadership is fundamental. We want to hear our residents’ voices as much as possible and we want to benefit from our councillors’ knowledge and experience of the communities they represent. These changes ensure every councillor has the ability to directly hold the executive to account on any issue, and ensure that everyone locally knows how and when they can get involved.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council
Dame Moira Gibb, independent chair of the Governance Review Panel, said: “This report, based on the hard work of the panel and helped by everyone who has contributed to the review, charts a way forward for the council to engage better with borough residents and ensure that all elected councillors, on behalf of those residents, can influence the many decisions that the council takes. When implemented, these changes will help residents see the best of the council and know their representatives are included in making the decisions that matter”.
Panel member and deputy leader of the opposition Councillor Jason Perry said: “One of the strengths of the review has been how the panel has worked across party lines, recognising the important contribution that all local councillors can make. The panel’s recommendations support the different roles that we can all play in the democratic process to ensure our communities are represented, and potentially paves the way for more cross-party working in the future.”