North Northants Council uses new advisory panels for first time

Panels are politically balanced but non-decision-making

By Sol Buckner
Friday, 2nd July 2021, 1:29 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 1:30 pm
North Northants Council
North Northants Council

New advisory panels to help with the decision-making process have been used by North Northamptonshire Council for the first time.

Executive Advisory Panels (EAPs) were introduced under the council’s constitution as part of its approach to inclusive decision-making and all were live streamed.

The panels were established by the council’s executive committee with the aim of providing it with advice and informed views from panel members.

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They aim to meet once a month and enable a cross-party approach to the formation of policies before decisions are made.

They will normally be held using ‘virtual meeting’ technology and live-streamed. Recordings of panel meetings will be retained for at least six months after the meeting date.

There are five panels which were all held for the first time between June 23 and 30. The panels are: Health and Wellbeing and Vulnerable People; Climate Change, Environment and Growth; Education, Skills and Employment; Service Delivery, Performance and Customers; Planning Policy

The council’s constitution states: “The panels shall consist of relevant executive members and six other councillors as the leader may determine.

“Although the panels are non-decision-making, they shall be politically balanced to ensure that they reap the potential benefits associated with involving a range of representation.”

At the Service Delivery, Performance and Customers EAP meeting on Monday (June 28), the council’s director of transformation, Lisa Hyde, presented the item Executive Advisory Panel, Terms of Reference which details how they will be run.

She said: “This is a really unique and great opportunity for us as officers to work with you as members around some of the subject matters to be able to discuss them, debate them and then you can have an input into when the decision making process comes and these things go forward to the executive.

“So we would envisage that, at certain points, where for instance, I will give you an example, today when we’re talking about some of the customer elements, when it comes to bringing together the customer services strategy to bring to executive, it will be great that we can say ‘and the executive advisory panel on service delivery, performance and customers has had an input into this and these are their views about the strategy and how this has come about’.

“So that really sums up where we are.”

She went on to say: “So this is about being in front of the decision-making process and I always see scrutiny as being something that also could be in front of the decision-making process but after to review as well.

“But this is about contributing to all of that and giving you an important role in that.”

The next scheduled EAP is for Planning Policy on July 19 starting at 9.30am.