THE end of Cheshire East Council’s cabinet has moved a step closer.

Eight councillors from across the political spectrum are set to work together to iron out the details on how CEC will scrap the cabinet and replace it with a series of committees from next May.

It comes after the council’s Independent Group campaigned for the reform last year, included it as a condition to work with Labour following May’s election, and won support for it from all sides of the council chamber at May’s meeting.

Brian Reed, CEC’s head of democratic services and governance, told the constitution committee on Monday: “This is going to be a very detailed piece of work.

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“There will be much research involved and much research has already taken place.

“Assuming – if one can – that the council wishes to go in this way there would need to be major constitutional change.”

The constitution committee’s decision to form a working group tasked with studying how the new system could take shape comes just over a year since Conservatives on the same committee blocked calls to look into the reform.

That move sparked the Independent Group into action – launching a petition and securing a debate on governance in March, which saw the then-ruling Conservative group vote down the proposal.

Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors supported the idea before May’s election, when CEC slipped into no overall control, before the Conservatives switched their position.

The working group will study other councils which have switched from a cabinet system to a committee one, produce a timeline for the work and produce a detailed plan for the new governance arrangements.

That plan will go back to the constitution committee, which will then recommend the changes for full council to give the green light.

Cllr Phil Williams, Liberal Democrat member for Alsager, said: “The sooner we get on with this sort of thing the better – in everybody’s interests.”

Winsford Guardian:

Potential issues include making sure the new system is appropriately staffed and considering any changes to members’ allowances, Mr Reed told councillors.

Cheshire’s former borough councils used the committee system, but it was scrapped by the Government in 2000 and replaced with the cabinet model.

But the rules were changed 11 years later, allowing councils to choose whether to stick with the cabinet model or switch to committees, and a number of councils across the country have since made the move.

Cllr Steven Hogben, Labour member for Crewe South, insisted it is important that CEC is ‘looking ahead, not looking back’ to the old committee system of Cheshire’s past borough councils.

He said: “We are not talking about reinventing what was there 20 years ago, we are talking about a 21st century form of committee system.

Winsford Guardian:

“One objection that I have heard is that in the committee system, decisions always get delayed – well not if you have an urgency committee, for example, a committee which is suitably set up to deal with urgent matters.

“That is the sort of item the working group will need to look at, so this is a really good opportunity to explore what is practiced across the country.”