Council shake-up planned to get authority in shape for the future

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson
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PLANS are in place for the biggest shake up in a decade of how Sunderland City Council is run.

The major overhaul will see a reduction in the number of scrutiny committees that meet, a reduction in the size of the cabinet and the strengthening of the various area committees.

The council say the proposals have been made so it can “seize the opportunities and meet the challenges” it will face in a time of major change for local government.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “A lot of things have been in place for a decade and they need to change.

“The changes are not just a response to external factors but should strengthen governance in Sunderland. They are essential and will enable us to do what we need to do at an area level.”

The council also state that their profile and position within the region and beyond is stronger than ever before and the new structure would take what was good from the current system and blend it with the new proposals.

But a part of the plan that involves creating five new roles to support the cabinet has been criticised as possibly “jobs for the boys”.

Peter Wood, deputy leader Sunderland Conservatives, said: “These are big changes which have not been discussed by full Council and we would wish to discuss them further.

“We are not opposed to change, like reducing the number of cabinet posts by two and aligning the responsibilities of cabinet members with council directorates, but there is a danger the changes will mean more jobs for the Labour boys.

“We believe there should be no increase in the number of special responsibility allowances for councillors and there should be no further concentration of power in the hands of the members of the majority group.

“We also want to know if just one scrutiny committee will have the capacity to tackle the scrutiny role required of it and there must be a continuing role for opposition members in scrutiny.”

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