Work starts on 'mammoth reforms' at heart of South Tyneside Council - expenses, allowances and transparency at core of review

Town hall chiefs have started work on a series of ‘mammoth’ reforms at the heart of South Tyneside Council.
Council leader Tracey Dixon said work to reform the local authority would be a 'mammoth task'Council leader Tracey Dixon said work to reform the local authority would be a 'mammoth task'
Council leader Tracey Dixon said work to reform the local authority would be a 'mammoth task'

A cross-party group of elected representatives has begun the process of a full review and overhaul of the council’s constitution.

And bosses are now racing to have an updated version of the document, which sets out the rules and procedures for running the local authority, ready ro be given the final seal of approval by May.

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“I think we need to recognise the mammoth task that we’re undertaking,” said council leader Tracey Dixon.

South Tyneside Council Leader Cllr Tracey DixonSouth Tyneside Council Leader Cllr Tracey Dixon
South Tyneside Council Leader Cllr Tracey Dixon

“It’s a huge shift from the previous constitution because time has lapsed over many years and it really did need to be revisited.

“But i think it’s very important we get this right and this politically-balanced committee looking at this will definitely be able to move forward.

“We’ve set a time scale, but it has to be right for the council and for members of the public as well.”

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Cllr Dixon, who became the local authority’s first female leader in November 2020, was speaking at a meeting of the council’s Constitution Committee on January 4, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

All English council’s have been required to have constitutions since 2000.

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An early draft of an updated constitution has already been provided for councillors, but is expected to be added to over the coming weeks and months.

Several changes suggested to improve transparency, openness and accountability so far include:

:: Clearer rules on what information is available to elected councillors and members of the public

:: An overhaul of rules on expenses and allowances for councillors, which will also be reviewed by a new s Independent Remuneration Panel the council is currently recruiting to

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:: More ‘plain English’ to help the public understand council procedures, particularly relating to the process for investigating complaints

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