Change from cabinet to committee system

Council governance structure

We are currently exploring a different way of governance for the council after councillors elected in May 2023 agreed to change from a leader and cabinet decision process to a committee system.

Consultation on public involvement

It is important to this council that its residents and businesses can effectively feed into the democratic decision-making process.

Residents and businesses were invited to give their views on proposals (PDF, 384KB)  to enable members of the public to participate in public question time at meetings of the council.

Views were shared in an online survey during January 2024 and a public meeting was held in the Civic Centre on Monday 5 February. This meeting was webcast and can be viewed.

Background to the proposed governance change

How is the council run now and why is it changing?

The current system is a cabinet system led by a leader. The leader is elected by full council for a term determined by the council or on a four yearly basis and will usually be the leader of the largest party on the council.

The cabinet members are councillors overlooking different service areas of the council and are chosen by the leader.

As required under the Local Government Act 2000 there is also at least one overview and scrutiny committee.

At a meeting of full council on 21 June 2023 councillors agreed to step away from the cabinet structure and to set up a Constitution Working Group to establish a committee system for making decisions.

What is a committee system?

Under this system councils are divided into politically balanced committees to make decisions under powers delegated by the full council. This means that minority groups and independent members are also part of the decision-making process and no individual member of the council has decision making powers.

The number of committees and the areas of responsibility will be among the governance issues being discussed by the working group.

The position of leader and deputy leader remain in the committee system.

What is the Constitution Working Group?

This group is advised by legal experts and council officers and will agree the steps to be taken prior to the change to a committee system.

The group members are the leaders of political groups on the council – Cllr Jim Martin (Green), Cllr Tim Prater (Lib Dem), Cllr Connor McConville (Labour), Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee (Conservative) and Cllr Paul Thomas (Independent).

The group is to meet monthly and the meetings can be viewed online The next meeting is on  Wednesday 24 April at 12.30pm.

The group will make recommendations about a committee structure and final decision about the structure will be made by full council. 

Minutes of the meetings can be found at Browse meetings - Constitution Working Group | Folkestone & Hythe District Council (

How will the new system work?

There are several different ways that local authorities which have a committee structure operate. Some have just two or three main committees and others have more.

Consideration will also need to be given to how the corporate work plan will be accommodated in the new structure as well as the process of financial monitoring, including audit.

Further updates will be provided on this page.

When will the change come into effect?

The change to the governance system is due to be made in May 2024. At a meeting of the full council on 24 January 2024 a motion to postpone the introduction of the change to May 2025 was supported by councillors. It was agreed that this would allow more time for councillors to be familiar with, and understand the changes involved in the move to a committee system of governance.

A public notice announcing the change published in accordance with regulation 9KC, Part 1A, Chapter 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 (as amended). (Published in August 2023)

Why is a new system being brought in?

There are various reasons behind the decision to change from a cabinet system to a committee one.  We gave three councillors - Cllrs Jim Martin, Paul Thomas and Tim Prater - 20 seconds each to explain a benefit of the switch.

Page updated: 27 March 2024