CONSULTATION ON CONSTITUTION

Merton Council has announced outlined consultation arrangements for the new Council constitution and decision making processes which will be announced to the Secretary of State by June 2001. This will then be operational by June 2002.

Legislation requires council to look at three possible options of political management for a council such as Merton. These are an elected Mayor and cabinet, a leader and cabinet and an elected Mayor and Council Managers.

Following borough-wide consultation processes last year the clear majority of respondents for a pilot study considered that a Leader and Cabinet model was to be preferred. Following the implementation of the pilot since May, and the operation of these new procedures, a cross party panel of councillors and officers are reviewing the structure, and looking at modifications and amendments to the decision making process.

These options are aligned with other proposals, including overview and Scrutiny commissions, a Standards Committee, and differing methods of managing and operating Council meetings. All of these proposals are designed to ensure that elected members are better able to fulfil their roles of community leadership and executive decision-makers.

Consultative exercises may include adverts in local papers, a leaflet for distribution to all households, a council website link, public meetings and a free telephone voting system.

An important element of consultation process is the need to fully consult and inform local residents, business people, partners and stakeholders about the three available options and to ask their views. It is also stressed that those consulted be given all the facts about the three available options. The fact the Council has been trialling one particular option will not dominate in any consultation.

Following the completion of the range of the consultative exercises, external modernisation commissioners will prepare a report for the Executive based on the findings and make recommendations on the option favoured by the local community.

Councillor Andrew Judge, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “Merton’s pilot has successfully anticipated the new legislation and so stands as a valid transition in respect of debating and moving to permanent arrangements. This period will enable the practices and experiences of other local authorities to be considered and to be discussed in addition to the consultation process that will take place in Merton.”

“We will be able to provide the widest possible set of information and kn