26 March 2021
Greens Vindicated by Governance Improvements at City Hall
Green councillors on Norwich City Council have expressed relief that the rules saying who makes some decisions at City Hall are going to change. Greens hope the new way of working will make the Labour-run council more transparent as it begins to follow new practices which have been requested by Greens for some years.
Two members of the Labour cabinet which controls the city council are also on the board of Norwich Regeneration Limited, a company set up by the council to build housing. Since this arrangement began, Green councillors have asked for the company board and the council's cabinet to be separated. Greens were, therefore, pleased when a statement was made by the Leader of the Council at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday 10th March, announcing that councillors would have to choose to be a member of the cabinet or the board in the next civic year, which starts in May.
Greens were pleased that another of their requests was being granted and that a shareholder panel would be created to scrutinise the council's wholly-owned companies. The inclusion of a Green councillor on this panel will allow an opportunity for questions to be asked which could lead to improvements in service delivery.
Councillor Ben Price said:
"I'm delighted that Labour councillors have said they're finally going to do the right thing and that they won't continue to sit on both the council's cabinet and the company board. This is an overt conflict of interest which is unacceptable for members of a local council. It can't be right for a councillor to ask the council for a loan on behalf of a company and also be one of the group of people who decide whether or not that loan is made."
Councillor Paul Neale added:
"I'll be reassured when cabinet members can only sit on a shareholder panel, with councillors from other political groups and council officers, instead of on the board of NRL. I'm glad the council seems to be learning from its mistakes and has not put any cabinet members on the board of its new company, Norwich City Services Limited. This seems to be a step in the right direction and goes some way to delivering the higher standards of governance Greens have been asking for for years."
Norwich City Council will deliver more of its own services, via a company called Norwich City Services Ltd, from 1st April. These services are currently provided by Norwich Norse Environmental and Norwich Norse Building through a joint venture arrangement between Norwich City Council and Norse.
Further information from:
Councillor Ben Price firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Paul Neale email@example.com
For further comments on Norwich City Services Ltd, see here: Norwich Green Party | A Green Vision for Environmental Services