New Leader and Cabinet arrangements now in place

The Guildhall in Canterbury

A new era for decision making at Canterbury City Council is underway with a move to a Leader and Cabinet system.

A new era for decision making at Canterbury City Council is underway with a move to a Leader and Cabinet system.

At the council's annual meeting on Wednesday 18 May, the new structure was formally confirmed, with a Cabinet made up of six councillors now in place. They are:

  • Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding - leader of the council, responsible for strategy (including corporate plan, local plan, digital, communications)
  • Cllr Rachel Carnac - deputy leader of the council, responsible for corporate matters (including budget, legal, personnel)
  • Cllr Barbara Flack - responsible for place (including transport, parking, regeneration)
  • Cllr Joe Howes - responsible for people (including housing, homelessness, community support)
  • Cllr Andrew Cook - responsible for environmental services (including waste collections, public toilets, grounds maintenance)
  • Cllr Ashley Clark - responsible for enforcement and open spaces

The Cabinet is responsible for taking most day-to-day decisions and developing and implementing most policies. It also collectively provides strategic leadership to the council and recommends the budget and key policy proposals to the full council for agreement.

An important part of the new approach is the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which carries out pre-decision scrutiny of reports going to the Cabinet on the council’s policies, projects, budget and services.

Certain elements of overview and scrutiny work will be carried out by the new Scrutiny Sub-Committee, including reviews of any Cabinet decision that is 'called-in' for further scrutiny by three or more councillors, and holding the Cabinet to account by monitoring the council’s financial and service performance.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is chaired by Cllr Mark Dance, and Scrutiny Sub-Committee is chaired by Cllr Dave Wilson.

The fourth and final new committee is the General Purposes Committee, which deals with matters such as council staffing, health and safety and elections.

Public speaking rights have also been agreed for these committees. The public is encouraged to speak at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee so that views are heard in sufficient time for them to be taken into account before Cabinet decisions are taken.

If an item isn't being discussed at Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the public can speak at Cabinet. This ensures that for every decision being taken there is an opportunity for members of the public to speak.

The process for registering to speak is set out on the council's website, where full details about the new structure can also be found.

There are no changes to other existing committees, such as Planning Committee, Joint Transportation Board and Whitstable Harbour Board.

The new civic team for the council year 2022/23 was also sworn in at the annual meeting. The Lord Mayor is Cllr Anne Dekker, from Herne and Broomfield ward, and the Sheriff is Cllr Louise Harvey-Quirke, from Sturry ward.

Cllr Fitter-Harding said: "Our new Leader and Cabinet model of governance ushers in a new era of transparency and accountability at Canterbury City Council. For the first time in seven years, elected councillors are taking the reins to help ensure the delivery of better services for residents in Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and the rural areas.

"But stronger political leadership isn't the only change. The publishing of our Forward Plan makes clear what decisions are coming up, and our overview and scrutiny arrangements will challenge decisions and service delivery to be the best that they can be.

"I look forward to working with all councillors from across the district in our new roles."

Published: 19th May 2022