Decisions, decisions, decisions…

We blogged recently about the government’s drive to localism, which is aiming to put power back in the hands of local people. But power is nothing without information…

…which is why we’re now publishing all of the Council’s proposed decisions online.

For the first time, we now have a live list of all the decisions and reports due to be considered by Elected Members over the coming months – fully accessible to the public.

By publishing this information live on our website, we are promoting a more open and transparent County Council that encourages residents to engage with us and get more involved in decision making.

Crucially, it also allows residents to see which decisions are due to be held in private, and gives them opportunity to challenge us on why those decisions can’t be made in an open public meeting. We think the Secretary of State would approve.

So where is it?

The decisions list is available on our Council and Democracy pages and is accessible to everyone. It can be sorted according to your preference, making it easy to find the information you’re interested in.

For example, if you want to know what’s likely to be on the next Cabinet agenda, simply sort the list by “Meeting Date” and scroll down to the Cabinet section. Or if you want to look for decisions related to the Fire Service, sort the list by “Group” and scroll down to the Fire and Rescue Service section.

Please do let us know what you think.

Do you think the Council is open and transparent?

Are you able to find the information that you need from us?

What else could we do to make things more accessible?

Could you run a Local Authority service better?

A recent change in legislation allows local people to challenge the Local Authority on who runs local services. It’s called the “Community Right to Challenge”. But what’s it all about?

The term “localism” has been pushed very had by the current government. Ministers have made changes to all sorts of legislation with a promise to “hand power back to local people”.

For example, just last week at Conservative Party Conference, the Home Secretary spoke about changing the law so victims of crime can choose the perpetrator’s punishment.

The biggest push for localism, however, has come from the Department for Communities and Local Government – the people in Westminster who essentially tell Local Authorities like us what to do.

The Secretary of State, Eric Pickles MP, has been quick to drive through the Localism Act 2011 (you can read a Plain English guide here), which promises to give local people power over their communities. The Act allows people to:

  • shape their local development plans
  • call a local referendum on certain issues
  • bid for the ownership and management of community assets
  • get involved in the delivery of Local Authority services

This last bullet point relates to a particular part of the Act called the “Community Right to Challenge”. It allows people to express an interest in running a Local Authority service in a different or more effective way. If this expression of interest is accepted (as you’d expect, there are various criteria to be met), the Local Authority must then open up a tendering exercise for that service.

The Community Right to Challenge came into effect over the Summer, and Warwickshire County Council has recently published its guidance and timetable. This page also includes contact details, so you can get in touch if you have any questions.

County Council Meeting – 10th July 2012

In here, 10am, Tuesday.

It’s that time again – we have a County Council meeting next Tuesday, 10th July. The meeting will start at 10.00am, and will be held at Shire Hall, Warwick.

Council is a really interesting meeting;  it’s the only forum where all 62 of our Councillors meet, where the most debate happens and one of the busiest times here in Democratic Services.

The Council elected a new Chair in May this year, and this will be his first full Council meeting since being appointed – here’s a short news story about the new Chair, Councillor Michael Doody.

There will be plenty going on next week – here’s the agenda in summary:

  • Petition – “Save Bath Place Community Venture”
  • Partnership Landscapes
  • Former Ford Foundry Site – Addition to the Capital Programme
  • Community Right to Challenge
  • Establishing a Police and Crime Panel
  • New Standards Framework
  • Report from Portfolio Holder – Customers, Access and Property

As always, our meetings are open to the public and you’re all welcome to attend. You can download the agenda and reports for the meeting here.

If you have any questions or comments, email me at martynharris@warwickshire.gov.uk or leave a comment below.

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