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Task group calls for Lichfield District Council to change focus of civic roles from social to leadership

A task group has urged Lichfield District Council to change the focus of its civic roles from social to leadership.

Lichfield District Council House

Lichfield District Council House

More than £43,000 is budgeted for 2017/18 to support the chairman and deputy chairman of the local authority, down from £59,080 two years ago.

A review of the civic function began following criticism of proposals to retain the council’s chauffeur-driven Jaguar – a controversy which eventually saw the vehicle downgraded to a Ford Mondeo in 2016.

The task group has now reconvened to re-assess the civic function.

A report to a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting revealed the number of functions attended by the civic leaders had dropped – but not to the 100 a year it had recommended.

The reduced number of events visited saw a decrease in use of the civic car – it made 82 journeys last year, covering 3,177 miles, down from 4,418 miles in 2014/15.

“In the civic year 2016/17, 135 events were attended by the chairman (127) and the vice chairman (8),” the report said. “This compares to 150 in 2014/15.

“The aim of the change was to reduce the number to nearer 100 events per year and it is clear the numbers are reducing and monitoring should continue.

“As councillors will be aware, the Annual Dinner was cancelled due to lack of support, as the event would have needed to be subsidised and this is not possible.

“The Civic Service was attended by 180 people and Lichfield District Council organised visits to Wall and the National Memorial Arboretum that attracted 24 and 35 civics respectively.”

There had been some criticism from a former chairman of plans to downgrade the civic car and reduce the number of events.

But the task group report said there had been no outcry from residents and other civic leaders.

“There has been very little feedback from communities, other councils or our own councillors on the impact of any of the changes made,” it added. “There have been no complaints about refusal of invitations or lack of attendance.

“Other civic officers that we have spoken to have also identified that there is a reduction in their own activities locally and that their own Mayor/Chairman is restricting activities more to their own area.”

The report has outlined a number of recommendations, including a plan to extend the tenure of a chairman from one year to two in order to maximise the chance for them to develop in the role. It has also called for another review of the civic car once the current lease expires in 2019.

Other recommendations include attending no nominated charity events, including those at Burntwood Town Council and Lichfield City Council unless there are “very exceptional circumstances”.

The task group has also called for a change in the way the role is viewed.

“The role of chairman should be a leadership role and not a social one, with emphasis on meeting the strategic needs of the council through networking opportunities and publicity,” the report said. “This would also link into the commercialisation agenda of the council.

“To achieve this, training should be provided to prospective chairmen along with chairing skills training to aid the role in Full Council meetings.”

The report will be discussed at the overview and scrutiny meeting on September 6.

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2 Comments

  1. Grey Wolf

    1st September, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Yet another show of time-wasting by a council.

    “The role of chairman should be a leadership role and not a social one”, surely the leaders of the councillors should just be the chairman? It is very confusing to have Chairman, Leader of party, Leader of committee and all the other tatty titles.

    I understand the use of a chair, and serving 2 terms does seem more efficient. However, I am staunchly against the selection process of them. I live in Burntwood and from what I gather we’ve had 2? chairs in recent times. A kid and Mrs Stokes (who is a repeated chairman). I sense the position is not wanted, and is more of a “presentational” role then a functioning one

    Either use the role as a town leader and actually lead the council as a whole, or scrap the role and just carry on being as useless as always? Not that any of this matters, we get the same crap any way

  2. Steve

    2nd September, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    £43000 for 3177 miles. That is over £13 a mile.

    How can that be value for money?

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