Improving Our Decision-Making

A proposed new approach
A presentation given to the Luton Liberal Democrat Council Group in 2005

The Current Situation

Current Problems
‡ Lines of accountability and communication are unclear ‡ Poor coordination within Group and Executive ‡ Poor coordination with officers ‡ Inability to effectively prioritise ‡ Officer agenda not Group agenda

New Proposal
‡ To add in two new coordinating bodies ‡ To remove wasteful meetings and duplication of effort ‡ To abolish NTEs & OTEs ‡ To clarify the remit of meetings ‡ To create opportunities for better communication ‡ To create a more logical decision making process

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ To work better as a Lib Dem team To work better with officers To increase the accountability of officers To better control the agenda To ensure the Group is at the heart of decision making

The New Proposal

Group Board
‡ Function:
± Political direction & leadership ± Monitor achievement of Group objectives ± Help communication between executive members ± Coordinate group media activities ± Provide a campaigning input into decision making

Group Board
‡ Reports to:
± Group

‡ Membership:
± ± ± ± ± ± Leader Deputy Leader Portfolio holders Group Chair Group Coordinator (Clerk: Group Assistant)

Joint Board
‡ The Council¶s ³Board of Directors´ ‡ Function:
± A meeting of the executive and the management team ± Provide political context for management decisions ± Co-ordinate strategic decision making & policy development ± To monitor the achievement of council objectives ± Set-up, set the terms of reference & membership, and receive reports from joint member/officer groups ± Agenda planning for Executive and Full Council

Joint Board
‡ Reports to:
± Group Board (Members) ± CDMT (Officers)

‡ Membership:
± ± ± ± Leader, Deputy Leader & Portfolio holders Chief Executive & Corporate Directors Key Heads of Service (Clerk: Group Assistant & Executive Secretary*)

Additional Issues
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Coordination of Joint Working Group Policy Development Officer Support Role of Portfolio Holders

Coordination of Joint Working
‡ Joint Board will set-up, set the terms of reference & membership, and receive reports from joint member/officer groups ‡ This will help the Executive work with the officers in a more coordinated way and ensure that we set the agenda for joint working ‡ This will mean we can better cover:
± ± ± ± Policy development Overseeing key projects Monitoring of key themes E.g. Finance Group & Performance Group or Swimming Pool Group

Group Policy Development
‡ There is a need to strengthen the way the Group develops policy ‡ Within this proposal there are two suggestions for how we do this:
± Establish ³Theme Groups´ that meet regularly to discuss issues ± To make space for this (and full Policy Group meetings) every other Group meeting would have a policy focus

‡ How do we fit this in with Scrutiny?

Officer Support
‡ We should change the way Democratic Services support the decision making process by restructuring to create the post of Executive Secretary ‡ This role would be:
± To clerk Executive, Joint Board, and member/officer meetings ± To follow up the decisions of Executive & Joint Board ± To help portfolio holders with their role as Executive members

‡ This would free up the Group Assistant to concentrate on supporting the Group

Role of Portfolio Holders
‡ The aim of this proposal is not to replace the role of Portfolio Holders or restrict their ability to act on their own initiative or shape the agenda ‡ It is to provide a much more coordinated and structured framework within which they can operate

The Full Picture

‡ This proposal should not create more meetings ‡ It should replace the current confused system of OTEs & NTEs, various ad hoc meetings, and late night emails we currently use ‡ The different bodies will meet on an alternate basis over a 4 week cycle ‡ Meetings of one body will receive reports from and refer issues to meetings of other bodies ‡ Thus it will be easier to track and follow up issues and reports as they move from meeting to meeting

A Four Week Cycle
Week 1
Group Group Board Joint Board Executive Executive

Week 2

Week 3
Group (Policy)

Week 4

Group Board

The Decision Making Process
Group Group Board Joint Board Exec Exec Exec


Group (Policy)




Group (Policy)


Group Board

Group Board Joint Board Exec

Group Board

‡ Introduction of Group Board and Joint Board
± Better communication and coordination ± More logical programme of meetings ± Clearer political accountability

‡ Greater emphasis on policy making by & within the Group ‡ Better & more appropriate officer support

Next Steps
‡ Approval by Group? ‡ Work up more detailed proposal with officers ‡ First Group Board & Joint Board meetings begin with new Executive ‡ Changes in staffing and officer procedures phased in over summer

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