Birmingham City Council District Committees 2013/14

By on 30/05/2012 in Factsheets

Factsheet: District Committees

The new administration has made localisation one of the defining features of its policies for how the city is governed.

Constituency committees, introduced in 2004 with cross party political support, have in effect been disestablished and replaced with revamped District Committees.  The new Committees have considerable new responsibilities and form part of a raft of changes that are being made to the way the City is governed.  The new arrangements for the Council Executive have fewer Cabinet posts held at the centre and a strengthening of the executive powers locally through the ten District Committees.

Each year the District Committee Chair’s  post will be confirmed at their first meeting. The chairs for the 2013/14 municipal year are as follows:

Edgbaston - Cllr Bruce Lines (Con, Bartley Green)

Erdington - Cllr Penny Holbrook (Lab, Stockland Green)

Hodge Hill - Cllr Ansar Ali Khan (Lab, Washwood Heath)

Perry Barr - Cllr Mahmood Hussain (Lab, Lozells & East Handsworth)

Hall Green - Cllr Habib Rehman (Lab, Springfield)

Selly Oak - Cllr Karen McCarthy (Lab, Selly Oak)

Northfield - Cllr Peter Griffiths (Lab Kings Norton)

Ladywood -  Cllr Yvonne Mosquito (Lab Nechells)

Sutton Coldfield - Cllr Anne Underwood (Con, Sutton Four Oaks)

Yardley - Cllr Sue Anderson (Lib Dem, Sheldon Ward)

Where the old Constituency Committees were directly responsible for around £4m of local services, new District Committees are responsible for greater resources with additional key services devolved for Housing Management, Youth Services and Adult Education.

Constituency Committees have often duplicated the role of the council's 40 Ward Committees, as the council bodies responsible for engaging local communities in a dialogue about their area.  The new governance arrangements mean that Ward Committees are afforded the sole responsibility for direct engagement with residents and community groups.  District Committees are strategic bodies with significant resource responsibilities.  They will paly a key role in holding service providers.

It is planned that District Committee meetings will be held in the Council House.  These key decision-making bodies will be able to access more efficiently the legal, financial and professional support services necessary to make them function.  It will also facilitate greater engagement of representatives from partner organisations, who,  realistically, would not be able to engage with ten different parts of the city.

District Committees have three distinct roles:

1.    Assessing the needs of their area, typically for around a 100,000 population, develop service plans and/or commission services and monitor these services and the associated budgets

2.    Influencing key partners and the voluntary and community and private sector with the aim of improving local areas

3.    Working alongside Ward Committees - four per District, to engage with the public and range of local stakeholders.

District Committees will help save valuable resources, cutting down the number of meetings and the costs of the bureaucracy for serving these and enabling District Committees to channel resources into front line services that make a difference.  It has been calculated that the overall costs of servicing the Council's new governance arrangements is less than it was previously.

Committees and their Chairs (who will be Executive Members for Local Services) will be at the heart of decision-making in Birmingham.  Their executive members will have rights to sit at the council's Cabinet and speak about how decisions affect their area.  They will also be able to influence how city-wide decisions take into account the needs of local areas.

With more responsibility, power and influence than before, District Committees will  be properly serviced in line with the status of key decision-making bodies.

Ward Committees will be expected to carry out the key role of holding public meetings and engaging with residents and local stakeholders supported by community chest funding.  Elimating a tier of bureaucracy and red tape which will produce savings overall. Underneath the Ward level the council will enable neighbourhood level activity reaching out to people where it makes sense to them in their own patch.


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There Are 8 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Richard Morris says:

    Why nothing about the actual meetings?

    Membership? Location? Timing? Public attendance or involvement? Published minutes?

  2. Adnan Saif says:

    Great news to see District Committees resurrected with seemingly improved powers and status. Well done BCC. A few quick comments/questions though from previous experience:

    – Will DCs have the resource needed to manage? Previously each had a Director and two senior managers, etc.

    – BCC should rethink responsibility for major leisure facilities. range and age of facilities requires more strategic approach unless DCs will be given enough resources to make them work rather than be a drain on other budgets.

    – Not sure if the District Strategic Partnerships still functioning, but well worth developing. Especially with the Police, Fire and Health Authorities. Many useful services were developed as a result of such arrangements.

    – I hear that DCs meetings will be held in the Council House. If this is the case it will be a missed opportunity not to have them where the residents can attend. They were generally beter attended than Ward Committees.

    Best wishes to all involved.

  3. David Treadwell says:

    Like the previous correspondent I applaud the principle of devolution and localism, but with a pause for thought with regards to the central location of the District Committees. Particularly, as previous Labour administrations were very forward thinking on public engagement. We have seen many initiatives for citizen access to the process of Local Governance, with neighbourhod offices in 1985, followed by Ward Committes in the 1990s, both as a means of engaging local people with their elected members. Followed by Local Involvement Local Action (LILA) launched in 1997,also Ward Advisary Boards and Strategic Partnerships as a means of the local community, local councillors, senior officers and other agencies able to identify and address local needs and be seen to connect with those they serve.

    We also had the opportunity for involvement and support of the Constituency Strategic Partnerships (CSPs) these public bodies were responsible for the Community Plan, which set out the priorities for the local area and how they were to be met.

    What is the situation with Be-Birmingam, which was formed in 2007, are they still functional?

    We have seen many agenda’s along the way and many may wonder where these are likely to lead us?

    Who will monitor and deliver Birmingham 2026 “Our Vision for the Futue” and who will oversee all the efforts undertaken with the LAA outcomes?

    If we are committed to this process of public engagement we need to improve the promotion and standing of the WArd Committee.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share these thoughts and success with your endeavours

    • geoffc says:

      We’ll speak to the relevant people and get back to you with details.

    • geoffc says:

      Although legislation for Local Area Agreements was repealed by central government in 2011, the new administration has made it clear the Community Strategy outcomes are still important for the city. An important element to this is “closing the gap” – improving quality of life for all the Birmingham public, with a particular focus on making the fastest improvements for the people and for the places with the greatest need.

      New partnership arrangements at a strategic and local level are currently being developed with the new political leadership, and these are yet to be finalised. Ward committees will be about engaging directly with residents and enable them to shape services work in partnership to ensure they reflect the needs of local communities.

      However at their heart will be Social Cohesion – ensuring that all Birmingham citizens have access to opportunity across the social and economic life of the city. The new approach will not just be about monitoring SCS outcomes, but providing real challenge to delivery at all levels of Local Government

      We are currently taking forward the Social Cohesion agenda through “Giving Hope Changing Lives Social inclusion process”, and you can get involved by following our website – or on Twitter @fairbrum.

  4. Richard Morris says:

    geoffc, it seems pretty much a done deal that the meetings will take place at the Council House in working hours. Why haven’t you confirmed that? It’s not just about putting out good news. Hope you have grasped that.

    • geoffc says:

      I don’t think this site can be accused of just ‘putting out good news’. We post the confirmed facts at the time of posting and then update accordingly.