When is a Sefton Council Cabinet member not a Cabinet Member?

Ian Maher

Photo: Iain Maher

Sefton Council’s new Leader, Bootle Councillor Iain Maher may have appointed a new enlarged ‘Cabinet’ unlawfully, a Southport councillor has claimed.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Tony Dawson says:

“It is clear that the Constitution of the Council says that the Cabinet shall consist of the Leader and BETWEEN ONE AND SIX other councillors. But Cllr Maher seems to think that he has appointed a cabinet of EIGHT.”

“The Constitution also says that any proposed changes to the Cabinet shall be consulted upon. This has not happened.” Cllr Dawson has drawn his concerns to the attention of Sefton Council’s Chief Executive. “It is clear that the Constitution of the Council can only be altered by the full Council unless there is an emergency or a technical matter requiring immediate correction. The Bootle Labour Party deciding to expand the number of people receiving the top Allowances is not an emergency in my book.”

Cabinet Members are paid Special Responsibility Allowances which in Sefton Council have been the highest in the North West for some time. Councillor Maher’s proposal increases the number of Bootle councillors in the Cabinet while including the first ever non-Bootle in Labour’s proposed Cabinet, Councillor John Joseph Kelly who represents Manor Ward.

Councillor Dawson is also concerned about Cllr Maher’s proposed changes in the Special Responsibility Allowances paid to Cabinet Members. He fears that the Labour Leader is compromising the independence of the Independent Remuneration Panel who he has summoned to meet on Tuesday to rubber-stamp his proposals.

“This is an affront not just to the members of the panel,” says Cllr Dawson, “but to Parliament who set up Independent Remuneration Panels and decided, by law, precisely how they should operate. The Panel is meant to arrive at it’s own recommendations and pass them to the full Council who can accept them or amend them. There is no provision in the statute for any Bootle Council boss to summon the panel and bounce them into a particular proposal which is far from ‘independent’.

This is not the first time that Cllr Dawson has identified Sefton Council acting in a way which appears to break the law. In 2008 he consulted a specialist solicitor who advised that the proposals by Sefton’s Labour and Tory bosses to make the previous Chief Executive, Graham Heywood, ‘redundant’ were unlawful. These had to be overturned at considerable expense.


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