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Council to dissolve major committees

The Council of the Isles of Scilly will dissolve six of its major committees if recommendations are agreed at a meeting of Full Council on March 7.

The Children's committee; Community Services; Health Overview and Scrutiny; Planning; Transport, Economic Development and Infrastructure (TEDI); and Finance, Audit and Scrutiny (FAS) will all cease to exist. ​ Instead, Full Council will meet "frequently and regularly", for example once a month rather than approximately six times a year. ​ The proposals are a response to the recommendation by the Local Government Boundary Commission that the number of Councillors be reduced from 21 to 16. ​ The Licensing Committee, Health and Wellbeing Board, IFCA and Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) will be retained as they are required by law. It is also proposed that a Scrutiny Committee be established which will “discharge the audit and scrutiny functions that are currently undertaken by the Finance Audit and Scrutiny Committee”. ​ It is hoped that regular Full Council meetings will give all Members an “in-depth understanding of all Council areas”, improve attendance and reduce the days per month that an ordinary Member is expected to be available for Council business, “on the grounds that the role of elected Member should be attainable for people in full-time employment”. ​ The roles currently filled by Committee chairs will be taken up in part by Lead Members for Children, Adults, Place and Finance. ​ Council Vice-chair Steve Sims said: “There a number of advantages to streamlining the current system, not just because we will have fewer Members. More frequent meetings will reduce the urgency of some decisions. Deferring for three to four months can be a real problem, whereas a month is much less problematic. All councillors will be part of all decisions, which is good for democracy. ​ "The most significant change will be the Scrutiny role, which could have been considerably better in the past. FAS, the committee I currently chair, has a number of different roles and scrutiny seems to end up way down the list. A committee, akin to parliamentary select committees, dedicated solely to scrutiny with its own Lead Member, will considerably improve the situation. "Councillors on the Scrutiny committee will be those with no special responsibilities elsewhere, and participation by non Members will be encouraged where appropriate. There will be pre, post and ongoing decision monitoring." ​ He added: "I'm sure if the new structure is accepted it won't be perfect but it will be assessed and reassessed on an ongoing basis and the final shape will ultimately be decided by the new council."

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