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Councillors agree committee changes after March deferral

Members have now agreed major changes to the Council's committee structure after the recommendations were controversially deferred at a previous meeting.

The proposals - a response to reduction in the number of Councillors from 21 to 16, with only one representing each off-island - were deferred by Full Council on March 7 until after the local elections by a close vote of nine to eight.

Nine Councillors subsequently took to social media to explain their reasons for not voting in favour of the changes, saying that they wanted the newly-elected Council to make the decision about their preferred working structure after the May 4 election.

The recommendations returned to Members on April 18 after Cllrs Christine Savill, Steve Sims, Mollie Peacock, Robert Dorrien-Smith, Richard McCarthy and Avril Mumford called for a Special Council meeting to revisit them. There was particular concern that new off-island Councillors would have too big a workload as they would have to attend all committee meetings - up to 40 per year - as the sole representative of their constituents.

The decision to defer was overturned at Tuesday's meeting after nine Members voted in favour. The Council's Legal and Monitoring officer Richard Williams, who wrote the accompanying report, said that he supported the changes "quite strongly". Cllrs Colin Daly, Marian Berkeley, Gordon Bilsborough and Andy Guy voted against and Cllr Ted Moulson abstained. Cllrs Fran Grottick, Gaz O'Neill, Fraser Hicks and James Francis did not attend the meeting.

The changes mean that six major committees will be dissolved - the Children's committee; Community Services; Health Overview and Scrutiny; Planning; Transport, Economic Development and Infrastructure (TEDI); and Finance, Audit and Scrutiny (FAS). ​ Instead, Full Council will meet "frequently and regularly", for example once a month rather than approximately six times a year. 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”.

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