Internal report calls for greater powers for backbench councillors in Brent

PUBLISHED: 16:05 10 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:48 11 August 2020

Brent Civic Centre (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Brent Civic Centre (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)


Backbench councillors in Brent are calling for greater influence in decision making which is currently controlled by cabinet members.

A report, Forward Together, recommends comprehensive changes to Brent Council’s scrutiny and governance procedures.

Set up by the Labour Group in June 2019, the report will be voted on Monday (August 17) by the same group.

Twelve councillors, led by chair Cllr Thomas Stephens, were commissioned to look into every area of the Council’s governance, including its structure, scrutiny system, how cabinet members are selected, how backbench councillors are involved in decision-making and how local residents can raise concerns with the council.

The 25 recommendations include ensuring all council decisions are reviewed by backbench councillors prior to their implementation, and not just cabinet members.

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It calls for backbench councillors to elect cabinet members who are currently directly appointed by the leader Cllr Muhammed Butt.

Also included is greater scrutiny, forcing recommendations to be listened to at the most senior level of the council and a “beefed up” code of conduct with stronger expectations of attendance and commitment and “a zero tolerance approach to bullying and intimidation”.

Cllr Stephens said: “This is a hard-hitting, candid and wide-ranging review of every area of the council’s decision-making. We’ve looked at all the options in detail and left no stone unturned in exploring how we can work better in Brent.

“The comprehensive nature of the report speaks for itself, and I stand by it and am deeply proud of all the work that everyone has put into it.

“It’s testament to the strength of Brent Labour that we’ve been able to put this together and take a long, hard look at how we all work as councillors.”

He added: “Quite rightly, people expect the local councillors they elect to do a job and fight their corner in Brent Council.

“So this report will strengthen the powers and expectations of all councillors, embed scrutiny into every area of our work, and reform our structures to bring us as close as possible to the communities we serve.”

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