Committee system change delayed until May 2025

Published: 25 January 2024

A photograph of an empty council chamber at the Civic Centre in Folkestone.

Councillors have agreed to postpone the move to a committee system for decision-making.

At a meeting last night (24 January), a majority of members supported the motion from Folkestone & Hythe District Council leader Cllr Jim Martin to delay the change for a year to enable them to better understand the committee process.

The motion was as follows:

“The majority of councillors in the chamber are fully supportive of the move to a committee system and away from a cabinet system. The working group has made great progress and has been well supported by officers and external consultants.

“The principles and processes of a committee system are not in question, the problem is the deadline of May 2024 and the lack of time for members to become familiar with the mechanisms and detailed operations of the committee system.

“I would therefore like to put forward the following motion - This council believes that the current work on this important project should continue with the view of introducing the changes in May 2025. The proposed governance changes will be presented to the Audit and Governance Committee and full council for approval. This will allow more time for all councillors to be familiar with, and understand, the changes involved in the move to a committee system of governance.”

Councillors agreed to step away from the existing cabinet structure in June 2023 and a Constitution Working Group has been exploring the necessary steps to implement the change in time for the council’s annual meeting in May.

A budget of up to £100,000 has been allocated to implement the change in governance. This is allowing the council to gather expert legal advice and learn from the experience of other local authorities.

Views on how residents and businesses can engage with councillors and raise questions at meetings are being sought.

Visit the council’s website to submit your comments before 9am on Wednesday 31 January. Alternatively paper forms can be completed at the Civic Centre in Folkestone during normal opening hours.

An in-person meeting will also be held at the Civic Centre at 6pm on Monday 5 February where residents can come and ask questions about the new structure, as well as share views about how they would like to engage.