More seats for Labour on Herts County Council cabinet panels after by-elections

County council leader Cllr David Williams has signed off changes to advisory panels.

County council leader Cllr David Williams has signed off changes to advisory panels. - Credit: Archant

Labour councillors are to get a greater say at Herts County Council – after being given an extra seat on each one of the eight cabinet panels.

Each one of the advisory panels is designed to focus on the work of a particular executive member.

They now include Adult Care and Health, Children, Young People and Families, Community Safety and Waste Management and Education, Libraries and Localism.

And there are also panels for Growth, Infrastructure, Planning and the Economy, Highways and Environment, Public Health and Prevention and Resources and Performance.

Until now each committee has had 12 members; made up of eight Conservative members, three Liberal Democrats and one Labour.

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But at a meeting of Cabinet on Friday – which lasted less than five minutes – councillors agreed to increase the size of the committee to 13, with each committee having an additional Labour member.

Council leader Cllr David Willliams said the changes were drawn up following a request from the leader of the Labour Group.

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He said: “I am recommending to you to increase the membership of the panels to 13; allowing for eight Conservatives, as is; three Liberal Democrats, as is; and now two Labour members – which I think the Labour Group feels will enable their contribution to be stronger than perhaps it has been.”

In addition to the eight cabinet panels the council has five committees – Development Control, Employment, Pensions, Audit and Standards – where membership reflects political proportionality across the whole Council.

A meeting of the Annual Council earlier in the week determined that the allocation of seats on these committees would not change – despite a net electoral gain by Labour and a loss by the Liberal Democrats.

When the committee places were last allocated, in May last year, there were 51 Conservative councillors, 18 Liberal Democrats and nine Labour.

Now, after two county council by-elections, there are 51 Conservatives, 17 Liberal Democrats and 10 Labour.

But despite the electoral gain for Labour and loss for the Liberal Democrats the membership of the council’s five committees – which must reflect the proportionality of the council as a whole – have remained the same.

All the committees split by political proportionality: Development Control, Employment, Pensions, Audit and Standards have a Conservative majority, reflecting their majority on the council.

Labour have one seat on each of the five committees. Liberal Democrats have one on Employment and on Standards, two in Development Control and Pensions and three on Audit.

Principles of political proportionality do not apply to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny and the Health Scrutiny committees. Neither do the principles apply to Cabinet Panels, which are advisory bodies established by the Executive.

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