The Derby Conservative Council Group are preparing to release their manifesto for this May’s local elections which will present “A New Start For Derby”.
At the heart of the pledges will be a proposal to change the way the political parties and councillors work within the council to form policy and deliver services. Currently there are nine “all powerful” cabinet that make the vast majority of decisions – many seemingly at odds with what the public want or without properly listening to the public to understand what they want.
There are scrutiny committees made up of non-cabinet members, but Labour also control those meetings and so in a vast majority of cases it is almost impossible to have decisions made by the cabinet or council policy changed.
One example is Labour’s decision to remove funding from certain wards in the City but retained funding in wards where there are Labour councillors. The cabinet were able to make that decision regardless of significant opposition from the other political parties and the public who argued it was a cynical and damaging policy.
Another was Labour’s decision to remove funding from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and other similar organisations in Derby, again, despite huge opposition and clear evidence that it was a flawed policy.
There are many, many other examples.
All of this, has led to decision making focused on political outcomes rather than what is best for the City and £million’s of local Tax Payers’ money being wasted that could otherwise have been used to fund local services.
It has also significantly contributed to create a dysfunctional organisation, loss of key members of staff and, most of all, a break down in public confidence, not only in the Council itself but in all local Councillors.
Leader of Derby Conservative City Council Group, Matthew Holmes said, “We believe that Labour’s Leader & Cabinet approach to governance is no longer fit for purpose in Derby. Fundamental change is urgently needed.
That is why we are pledging, as part of our 2018 local election manifesto, to bring about a major change of governance by moving to a Committee System and end the Leader / Cabinet model that is currently in place.
A Committee System, following a suitable preparation and transition period, will give all councillors, regardless of political party, a greater say in the council’s priorities and every aspect of how decisions are made.
Crucially, it will also allow formal engagement with partners across the City and the public to directly involve them in the decision making process.
Each committee created would cover specific areas of council services and include members from all political parties to deliver a new era of openness, transparency and to bring about meaningful engagement with members of the public.”
Labour are also currently pressing ahead to demolish the Assembly Rooms and build a replacement venue in the same location. Labour’s plan will cost £44million and require £35million of borrowing that could result in the need to increase council tax for decades to come.
The Conservatives do not support this approach. Cllr Matthew Holmes said, “We are pledging to re-open the Assembly Rooms. Refurbishment would be carried out so that the venue can be brought back into use to provide concerts, performances, conferences and events. Recent surveys that we carried out shown that three quarters of the Derby public agree with our plan compared to Labour’s.
We are confident this can be delivered with a budget of around £10million and, unlike Labour’s plan to demolish and rebuild the venue our plan would not require massive borrowing and many years of council tax increases to pay for it.”
Derby Conservatives are looking forward to presenting many more proposals via our manifesto that will offer a credible alternative choice to the current Labour-run council in early April.