11 May 2022
The Bournemouth Independent & Green (BIG) Group on BCP Council has called for the Council to scrap its 'Leader and Cabinet' system, in favour of a "more stable and cooperative" committee system, that would involve all councillors in decision-making.
59% of Bristol voters backed moving to a committee system in a city-wide referendum this month. Sheffield voted last year to scrap its 'Leader and Cabinet' system in favour of a committee system, which will start this month.
BIG Group Leader, Councillor Chris Rigby, called for BCP Council to follow suit during a Full Council debate on a motion of no-confidence in the Conservative Leader of BCP Council, Drew Mellor. Much dissatisfaction was expressed during the debate with the effects on BCP's political culture and atmosphere of what Cllr Rigby described as a "not working" setup of "the power sitting with a few select members"
Under the alternative 'committee system', councils have a set of politically balanced committees that make the decisions. Each committee is made up of members from all political groups, inherently giving a louder voice to minority parties and independents.
On this Cllr Rigby said in his speech: "I'm going to say something you don't hear many politicians saying: no one has a monopoly on good ideas. No one. Yet, with our current system of the Leader and Cabinet Member decisions backed by a strong whip, there's no space for scrutiny or cooperation. The system in no way is accurately representing the views and wishes of the residents across BCP. We all deserve better.
"As a Green, I just believe in consensus politics, that all votes matter - not just those cast for a single party or person. With First Past The Post voting, combined with Leader and Cabinet councils, the views of the many are more often than not overlooked.
"Now it's not going to be easy, and working with people you disagree with can be very uncomfortable. But because everyone is included in decisions, it means decisions that we come to as BCP Council will have broad support from everyone, and can go ahead without the risk that future administrations, whoever they are, will rip it up and start again.
Expressing the hope that the motion of no confidence would be passed, Cllr Rigby called for any new Council Leader to work with him on proposing a referendum of Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole residents, on scrapping the 'Leader and Cabinet' system and moving to a committee system.
His remarks concluded: "In summary, yeah it's time for change. But not only a change of leader - a change to a more democratic, transparent, proportional and cooperative way of working."
The Conservative majority of councillors were duly whipped to vote down the motion of no-confidence, at the end of the extraordinary Full Council session.