Recently, some opposition councillors passed a motion effectively banning cabinet members from answering any questions, requiring instead that I answer all questions personally.
The rationale for this was supposedly that under the mayoral system, all executive decisions are officially taken by the executive mayor.
I think their approach is damaging to local democracy.
My approach at Full Council meetings has always been to deliver a verbal statement updating members on the progress my administration is making, and then allow my cabinet members to answer questions specific to their portfolios.
It makes sense that answers to questions that are usually of a highly specific nature are provided by the people who have day to day charge of the relevant area of governance.
Attempt by opposition councillors to silence my cabinet only serve to undermine the full participation of elected members at council meetings.
I have a strong cabinet, who invest long hours, remarkable intellect and hard work dealing with issues in minute detail on a day to day basis. Most of them held senior posts in previous Labour administrations where they would always answer policy questions in Full Council. They have a valuable contribution to make.
I believe in participatory democracy. In seeking to restrict the contribution of Cabinet members and fellow elected members, opposition councillors are only restricting local democracy instead.