Arun District Council changes will ‘strengthen local democracy’

Former Arun councillor Alan Gammon
Former Arun councillor Alan Gammon

Letter from: Alan Gammon, former Arun district councillor, St Augustine Road, Littlehampton

It was refreshing to read that at long last Arun District Council will finally grasp the nettle and revert back to the committee system in favour of cabinet.

I agree it will do much to strengthen local democracy but also empower back-bench councillors by taking a stronger role in the decision-making process.

The unwelcoming thought of more and longer committee meetings by some councillors may seem a bit off putting but exciting times are ahead for councillors that want to genuinely make a difference. However, as we applaud the efforts of councillor Francis Oppler I hope he will not stop there. Strengthening the role of councillors and local democracy is brilliant but taking full control of the somewhat officer-led council is another issue.

Historically powers have slowly been devolved over the years to the officers who are unelected employees in key positions that take decisions which should be made by the councillors.

Let’s hope with the continued backing of the opposition parties that a new committee can be formed to review delegated decision-making elsewhere and finally take back full control of the council. The article is about empowerment of our district councillors who for many have barely served a year in office. It is pitiful to keep them waiting to halfway into their term before they can take a full and active role in the new committee system.