July 24 2014 Latest news:
Monday, June 23, 2014
Barnet Council’s chief executive has abandoned plans to cancel all council meetings for the next month having sought legal advice.
Last week, Andrew Travers announced he wished to postpone all council meetings until at least July 15 - the date of the next full council meeting - after the authority’s new committee system was found to be “flawed”.
But having postponed several committees over the past week, Mr Travers has now ruled that meetings can resume after seeking advice from barrister James Gaudie QC.
The saga follows confusion over the membership and political balance of the council’s new environment committee which met for the first time earlier this month.
Following the issues encountered at that meeting, Mr Travers asked senior legal officer Hugh Peart to review the committee arrangements and was subsequently informed that the new system was “flawed”.
In January, the council agreed to scrap the cabinet sytem of decision-making and replace it with a cross-party committee system.
On Friday, Mr Travers wrote to councillors stating: “Mr Gaudie has confirmed Mr Peart’s view that the proportionality report agreed at council was flawed.
“Mr Gaudie further advises that the council should put this right at the first opportunity. He does, however, go on to say that it is open to the council to continue with scheduled committees in the meantime, and that decisions taken would be valid.”
After consulting with party group leaders, Mr Travers concluded that “with the exception of the pension committee, meetings should now take place in accordance with the agreed schedule”.
Lawyer Claer Lloyd-Jones has been appointed to conduct an external investigation into the “flawed” committee system set-up.