Newham Council to clarify potential “Committee model” arrangements

A team of councillors that will explore in detail how a “Committee model” of council governance would work is to be set up by Newham Council.

Full Council agreed last night (Monday, November 16) to establish a committee group to draw up detailed proposals for how a future Committee model would work, before Newham residents are given a referendum choice between that and the existing directly-elected Mayor Model.

The referendum, to be held on May 6, 2021, delivers on Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz’s commitment to give local people a clear choice between two options for the future of their council.

Under the current Mayor model, a Mayor is directly elected by local voters for four years, alongside 60* councillors. The Mayor appoints a Cabinet of up to nine councillors to make major decisions. The Mayor cannot be removed from office by a vote of Full Council.

Under the Committee model, decision-making powers rest with the Full Council of 60* councillors, who will appoint a leader and set up a number of committees to make decisions. There is no directly elected Mayor, and the Council Leader has no individual powers.

The group of Councillors, chaired by statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet lead for Resident Engagement and Participation Cllr Charlene McLean, will consider the main features of a potential future Committee model council, including: 

  • The powers of Full Council 
  • An outline of the different committees to be established, and their delegated powers
  • Arrangements for overview and scrutiny
  • Provision for any joint arrangements with other local authorities
  • Provision for delegating power/decision making to council officers 
  • Provision for other statutory arrangements, such as the health and wellbeing board  

In accordance with the law, and as part of the council’s commitment to transparency, proposals will be made available for inspection.

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, said: “I promised to transform Newham, to change the culture of the council and to make Newham a beacon of participatory democracy with “people power” at the heart of local decision making – including through holding a referendum on the future of the directly-elected Mayor model of governance.

“This new committee, agreed by Full Council, will ensure that local residents have full sight of how any future Committee model would work, and guarantee they can make a fully informed decision next May.

“My commitment to hold a referendum goes hand-in-hand with other measures to improve local democracy, including Citizens’ Assemblies, forums on key local issues such as climate change and budget, and co-production and co-design of policies with local communities.

“I am proud to fulfil my manifesto commitments, and to be breaking down barriers to civic engagement and participation. I look forward to seeing the committee’s proposals.” 

*66 councillors from May 2022.

Published: 17 Nov 2020