By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A cabinet meeting will be held at Nottinghamshire County Council for the first time in a decade after councillors approved a major overhaul of how the authority makes decisions.
The council has shifted from the committee system to a leader and cabinet model from this month as it gears up for potential new powers through devolution.
The decision, taken in March, came 10 years after the authority moved away from the same governance structure in 2012 in what council papers describe as the “best-suited local circumstances” for Nottinghamshire at that time.
However, the Conservative-led council now says changing back to the cabinet system will provide “maximum flexibility” when negotiating with the Government for a devolution deal.
And the authority also believes it will lead to “more efficient and effective decision making”.
It marks a big change in the way decisions are taken within County Hall, moving away from cross-party committees making key decisions on a raft of council policies.
The remits of cabinet members will broadly reflect the portfolios held by the previous chairs of the authority’s committees, with the majority of the previous committees having disbanded this month.
Portfolios include transport and environment, finance, adult social care and public health, children and families, communities, personnel, transformation, business management, and economic development and asset management.
Now it has been confirmed the first meeting of the new cabinet will be held in two weeks on Thursday, May 26, with Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con), leader of the authority, saying it will be an “effective structure” for decision-making.
He said: “This change leads us to the best possible position to access devolution powers, not least because it gives us the accountability the Government seeks in terms of our structures.
“Regardless of that, it puts us in the best possible place to have a modern and effective structure of decision-making.”
Cllr Bradley will lead and chair the cabinet meetings, with the group made up of himself and nine other senior councillors.
The majority of previous committee chairs will continue to lead their existing remits, while Cllr Matt Barney (Con), who represents Leake and Ruddington, has taken on the adult social care and public health portfolio.
A full council meeting on Thursday (May 12) was told there will also be deputy cabinet roles for other councillors within the ruling Conservative Group, who will act as assistants to the portfolio holders.
Further scrutiny committees will also take place within the authority to monitor the actions and decisions of the executive.
These will include the continuation of the existing health and wellbeing board and the planning and rights of way, pension fund and governance and ethics committees.
And the authority will also create select committees covering adult social care and public health, children and young people, and place.
These committees will be given call-in abilities when they believe decisions taken by the cabinet had ‘perceived procedural error’.
Cabinet members will be given final sign-off powers for decisions within their remit, with the authority to begin a delegated decision log on key changes taken by the authority.
And they will be required to regularly attend overview and scrutiny meetings to explain decisions.
Full council will still be responsible for finalising the authority’s annual budget, as well as setting members of committees and any key governance issues.