Mayoral term limits and an urban parish council among Newham democracy commission recommendations

The mayor of Newham has demanded the government give the council more money to plug a �61million bla

The mayor of Newham has demanded the government give the council more money to plug a �61million black hole in its finances. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A two-term mayoral limit and England’s first permanent citizens’ assembly are among the Newham Council reforms suggested by an independent democracy commission.

The suggestions, revealed today (Monday, July 6) also include an increase in particpatory budgeting - allowing people to have a say on how money is spent in their area - and a pilot scheme of an ‘urban parish council’ in one part of the borough.

The commission on democracy and civic participation heard from hundreds of residents, community groups, councillors, and national experts between November and February.

These discussions have also led to suggestions for an office for data, discovery and democracy, which would provide expertise on the democratic use of data and digital tools, as well as a new framework for area-based decision-making.

The latter will also feature an enhanced role for backbench councillors, while there will also be a stronger council overview and scrutiny function.

Professor Nick Pearce, who chaired the commission, said: “Newham has suffered a high number of cases of the coronavirus, and tragically the virus has taken the lives of many of the borough’s residents.

“But Newham has also seen a flowering of community support and mutual aid in response to the crisis, and its public services have risen resolutely to the challenge too.

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“All of this gives us hope that the capacities exist in abundance in Newham to take forward the recommendations in this report for the strengthening of democracy and civic participation in the borough. Newham can ‘build back better’ from the Covid-19 crisis with a series of innovative, democratic reforms.”

The commission followed six lines of enquiry, including innovation in democracy and what the council’s model of governance should be.

Newham Council’s cabinet members will formally consider the commission’s report and recommendations at its meeting on Thursday, July 16.