1. Area Committee Meeting Attended
For this assignment I attended the City and North District Committee meeting which was held on 28th of October, 2009, Wednesday at 6.00 p.m. The venue for the meeting was Herculaneum/Huskisson Room, Millennium House, Victoria Street, Liverpool L1 6JF. The main presence for the meeting was the Councillor Louise Baldock who chaired the meeting. There were 15 councillors were present for this specific meeting, including Councillor Jane Corbett. The other important presence in the meeting was of some officers and partners, like Lead Officer, Neighbourhood Manager, Environment Enforcement officer, Merseyside Police officer, which were needed in the meeting to give the satisfactory answers to the issues raised by the councillors and to note down the suggestions given to them by Chair person of the meeting.
Some Major Issues Discussed in This Committee Meeting
1. Declarations of Interest
2. Homophobic Attack - With permission of the Chair, a report was circulated to Members providing the District Committee with information regarding a homophobic attack on PC James Parkes in Stanley Street on 25th October 2009. Alison Stathers-Tracey introduced the report, which had been presented to a meeting of the Executive Management Team, and gave further information, including
- Community Safety is giving the incidents full attention and immediate response to provide re-assurances to the Community;
- Full support is being provided to the Police to ensure every available tool is being utilised;
- Information received from Community representatives is being passed on to the Police;
- CCTV is providing vital evidence for the investigation.
3. Minutes of the Last Meeting.
4. City Centre Management Report. (Liverpool city council meeting ,2009)
Typical Structure of The Committee Meeting
Layout of the Chamber:
The Lord Mayor, as Chair of the Council, occupies the central seat on the dais. Seated to the right are the Deputy Lord Mayor and the Head of Committee Services.To the left of the Lord Mayor are seated the Chief Executive, the City Solicitor and the Council Manager. They provide advice on the conduct of the meeting as well as making an official record of the proceedings and decisions taken. Upon election, Councillors are allocated a specific seat in the Chamber. The grouping of seats is along party political lines with the Labour group occupying those on the left of the Lord Mayor, the Liberal Democrat group those on the right and at the back Liberal group and other minority groups. (Council Meeting, 2009)
The media make use of a Press Table located below the dais and in front of the Members seating area. A number of officers will also be present in the meeting for supporting various aspects of the meeting. There is a Public Gallery to the left of the Lord Mayor. Officers Gallery will be to the right of the Lord Mayor.
Each seat has shared access to a microphone which is controlled from a console on the dais in the Chamber. The Lord Mayor has a replica of the microphone layout on the dais so that those wishing to speak can be identified. The console and the Lord Mayor's microphone incorporate an override button. (Liverpool City Council, 2009)
2. Interview With a City Councillor :-
Introduction: - COUNCILLOR JANE CORBETT
In the above mentioned City and North District meeting, I got an opportunity to meet one of the city councillors from Liverpool City Council. I had a personal interview with her. Her name is Cllr. Jane Corbett. She is a member of Labour Party. She is playing a role of the councillor for Everton ward. There are other two councillors who represent this ward, called Cllr. John McIntosh, & Cllr. Frank Prendergast. Jane is working as a Chair of Education & skills select committee, in City and North District. Jane got elected as a Councillor in May, 2002 from Everton ward. Jane is basically from community based background. She was an opposition spoke person in 2004, also has chaired the scrutiny committee. She is 52 years old. She was working as a nurse, after that she had completed her post graduation (MSc) in Urban Renewal Management from John Moores University, Liverpool.
In this interview with Jane, she explained her thoughts on the structure of the council, the role of the councillors, the executive board and their role, backbenchers, shadow board, and about the modernisation of the Council and local government system. (Councillor Interview, 2009)
The reduction from originally 165 Councillors to the present 90 Councillors means that not all of the seats in the Chamber are now occupied. The Council meets every 7 weeks (except August) and extraordinary meetings are sometimes held to deal with specific issues. At the beginning of every municipal year (usually in May) the council holds its annual general meeting. This is the meeting where theLord Mayor, deputy Lord Mayor,leader andexecutive board are appointed, as well asthe various other committees of the council. (Liverpool City Council, 2009)
Role of the Councillors:-
There are total 90 councillors in 30 wards of Liverpool City council. 1 ward is consisting of approximately 12,000 populations. All wards are community based wards. There are 3 councillors for each ward. They are the representative of their ward in council meeting. Councillors plays major role in preparation of LDF (Local Development Framework). They represent the issues from their specific wards in front of council. Policy change decisions are taken by Executive Board only, the councillors are helping hands for this process.
The Executive Board :-
The executive board is appointed by the city council and has ten members. These are, the leader and nine executive members with responsibility for a particular area mentioned as follows:
1. Deputyleader/finance, auditandprocurement,
2. Ethical governance,
3. Corporate performance,
4. Assets and development,
5. Enterprise and tourism,
6. Education, skills and employment,
7. Health, care and safeguarding,
8. Safer, stronger communities,
The executive board has responsibility for implementing the budgetary and policy framework of the council and has full authority in this respect. This means that most of its decisions do not need the approval of the full council. However, if they propose making changes to the framework, these must be submitted to the full council for a decision.
A committee is a group of councillors appointed by the council who meet to review, scrutinise or make decisions within a particular function. The council decides on the number of committees it will have and appoints the members of them at the annual general meeting. Liverpool City Council has an overview and scrutiny select committee and a further seven select committees-
1. select committees
3. scrutiny panels
4. the standards committee
5. regulatory committees
6. other committees
The shadow executive board :-
The Labour group is the main opposition to the majority Liberal Democrat group. They operate a shadow executive board that mirrors the portfolios in theexecutive board.Each of the members of the shadow board acts as Labour group spokesperson for their respective portfolios. (Liverpool City Council, 2009)
Councillors who are not members of the executive board are sometimes called 'backbenchers', like MPs who are not government ministers. However, they still have an important role in the running of the authority. Naturally, councillors are required to attend full meetings of the council, at which they have to discuss and often vote on key pieces of council policy. But in 2000 a new responsibility of scrutiny was created for backbenchers. (Labour online, 2009)
3. Modernisation of Local Government
The need of the change in local government
As per the DETR, (1998) report on Modernisation of Local Government in England, there is a great need of the change in Local Government, to strengthen the links between councils and local people, to deliver high standards for local people everywhere, to spread the best practice of local government, to tackle the serious failure and the issues of the Local Government.
The key elements of the Modernisation programme heralded by the white paper
- The introduction of a statutory duty on councils to obtain best value;
- A requirement on councils to introduce new models of political management;
- A new ethical framework for councillors and officers;
- A new power to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas together with a new duty to consult and engage with their communities;
- Changes to the local government finance system, including the abolition of universal capping and the introduction of a local element to the business rate;
Much of this agenda was welcomed by councils-indeed key elements of it had been lobbied for by local government before the general election. But it is important to emphasise two other aspects of the Government's approach to local councils. First, it is very much a carrot and stick approach. Secondly, it is important to stress that this is very much a DETR agenda led by the local government Minister. (Swann, 2000)
Modernisation of The Council :-
Councils succeed when they put people first. Successful councils' priorities are to lead their local communities. They involve and respond to local people and local interests. Their relationship with local businesses and other local organisations is strong and effective. There is trust between them and their local people. It is these councils, in partnership with Government and others, which are able to make real improvements to the quality of people's lives.
Such modern councils fit for the 21st century - are built on a culture of openness and ready accountability. They have clear and effective political leadership, to catch and retain local people's interest and ensure local accountability. Public participation in debate and decision making is valued, with strategies in place to inform and engage local opinion.
To achieve its potential, local government needs the right framework which encourages councils themselves to reform and modernise. Modernising local government is an immense task - for Government, for councils, for everyone involved. It is an agenda for essential change. The Government is committed to it. The Government will provide opportunities and incentives for change. It will support and motivate change, through legislation where necessary, working in partnership with local government and others including business and professional bodies. Each individual council will need to carry through its own modernisation process to suit its own local circumstances. This process will be helped where councils can learn and draw on each others' experiences. (DETR, 1998)
The process of Modernisation so far :-
The process of change is already underway. Councils have begun to reform and renew their political management structures. Some council are adopting new and innovative arrangements - insofar as is possible under current legislation - to give clearer political management. They are taking steps to separate out a political executive within their political structures. Some 40 councils are working with DETR to pilot best value in England, and many others are developing services on best value lines. (DETR, 1998)
4. Summary :-
- Local govt is an essential bulwark against over-centralisation
- Local govt structures and functions have been periodically altered to suit the requirements of central government.
- The restructuring of local government functions has had significant impact central-local government relations. It is a basic principle of public finance that there are severe limitations on a local authority's ability successfully to undertake independent policies of income redistribution.
- There are inevitably different views within local government about the modernisation agenda. But most people agree that elements of it present significant opportunities for local councils. (Loughlin, 1986)
5. Bibliography :-
1. Great Britain. Dept. of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), (1998), Modern local government: in touch with the people. Stationery Office, London. [Online] Available From : http://www.politicsresources.net/docs/DETR1998.pdf [Accessed On 19th November 2009]
2. Great Britain Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. (1998) Modern Local Government - In touch with the people. Stationery Office,
3. Moughlin, M. (1986) Local Government In Modern State, London, Sweet & Maxwell.
4. Chandler, J.A. (1996), Local Government Today, Manchester and New York, Manchester University Press.
5. Wilson, D and Game, C. (1994), Local Government in the United Kingdom, Hampshire, the Macmillan Press LTD.
6. Stewart, J. (2003), Modernising British Local Government, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan.
7. Swann, P. (2000), Local Government the Modernising Agenda. [Online] Available From :
http://www.jplc.org/papers/2000Swann.pdf [Accessed on 19th November 2009]