Local area committees to be given more power

Councillor Frances Melville LD
Councillor Frances Melville LD

CUPAR Independent councillor Bryan Poole has been given a key portfolio in the newly-formed Fife Council.

He is to take responsibility for education, children, young people and families under the administration’s new cabinet-style decision-making structure.

Councillor Poole’s appointment was announced by the Labour-controlled administration following a meeting last week at which it was agreed that a 15-strong executive committee, headed by council leader Alex Rowley, is to make policy decisions.

Two additional committees have been set up to scrutinise policy and decisions made by the executive.

However, the new regime has come under fire from Opposition councillors, including Liberal Democrat leader Tim Brett, who represents the Tay Bridgehead ward.

He said he had ‘serious concerns’ about the new structure, commenting: “While previously all decisions were made by committees which reflected the political make-up of the council, in the new administration responsibility lies with one portfolio holder for each policy area.

“We feel very strongly that the consensual, democratic decision-making of all-party committees was far more in the interest of the people, and led to better policies.

“Instead, the big decisions will be taken by a very small group of councillors, overwhelmingly representing a party who less than one in six Fifers voted for.”

Under the new regime, Fife’s seven area committees will remain in place – but with more power to make local decisions and greater control over budgets.

IMPORTANT

The north east Fife area committee will be chaired by Councillor Frances Melville, who was Provost under the former SNP/Liberal Democrat administration.

She takes over from fellow Liberal Democrat Andrew Arbuckle, who has retired from politics.

Commenting on the new structure, Fife Council leader Alex Rowley said: “It’s not the structure of the council that’s important to Fife’s residents, it’s what we achieve.

“So we have set up a system to help us deal with business quickly, effectively and in the best interests of Fife.

“This is a new structure for a new council with new challenges.

“We want to decentralise power for a purpose and that is to put people first.

“This structure will empower communities and open up new opportunities for local councillors and residents of Fife to influence their services, make funding decisions and change policies to support residents’ needs.

“We are all here to represent the people of Fife.

“Our challenge is to stand up for them and not just put them first - we want to put them in the driving seat so we can deliver better services for all our communities.”