Making Woking more Open and Transparent - over the first hurdle

June 11, 2019 7:00 AM
By Councillor Ann-Marie Barker

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Making Woking more open and transparent - over the first hurdle

Woking Council could change the way it is run if proposals from the Liberal Democrat Group Leader are agreed by Council next month.

Cllr Barker wants the Council to review the benefits of moving to a committee system.. This could replace the current council system of a 'strong leader' and Executive. Cllr Barker's proposal cleared its first hurdle when it was agreed by the Council's Executive on Thursday. The proposal now goes to Council in July.

"For the last 19 years Woking Council has operated under the Executive model. Residents are increasingly concerned about the transparency of council decisions. Far too much decision making is behind closed doors. The level of debate at Executive meetings shows that those running the Council have made their decisions before any public meeting" pointed out Cllr Barker

"Taking a look at the Committee system is a logical step. It takes away some of the power that is concentrated in one person in the current system" continued Cllr Barker.

"With a ruling Executive making key decisions, other councillors can be left feeling disenfranchised. Under a committee system more councillors are involved in decision making and there is greater transparency as to how those decisions are made".

A number of other authorities have successfully moved to the committee system, including Sutton, Three Rivers, Nottinghamshire and South Gloucestershire. And more are considering the system as the Conservative stranglehold has been broken in Surrey and across the country.

Having gained Executive support for her review on Thursday, Cllr Barker hopes Council will agree that a working group can start work in September and report in 2020.

"This is a first step to make the Council more open and transparent to the public" said Cllr Barker.