Agenda item


The Chairman to invite nominations for the election of the Leader of the Council.


In accordance with Article7 of the Constitution, if more than one nomination is received, a vote by secret ballot will be conducted.


The Leader shall hold office until the date of the Annual Meeting of the Council following the normal date or his/her retirement as a Councillor, subject to the provisions of Article 7.03(d) of the Constitution which sets out the circumstances in which the office may end earlier.


Where available, the Leader will notify the Council of the number of members he/she is appointing to the Executive (Cabinet), their names and their portfolios and the Leader’s Scheme of Delegation of Executive functions.



Council RESOLVED that Councillor Bridget Smith be elected as the Leader of the Council for 2018 – 2022.


On the nomination of Councillor Aidan Van de Weyer, seconded by Councillor Deborah Roberts, and there being no other nominations, Council




That Councillor Bridget Smith be elected as the Leader of the Council for 2018 – 2022.


Councillor Smith thanked Members for their support.  She announced the Members of the Cabinet and their respective roles, as follows:


Leader of the Council

Bridget Smith

Deputy Leader of the Council

Aidan Van de Weyer


Tumi Hawkins

Environmental Services and Licensing

Neil Gough


Hazel Smith


John Williams

Customer Services and Business Improvement

Philippa Hart



Councillor Smith then addressed the Council.  She noted that half of the Members in the Chamber were new to politics and new to the Council and that for the first time ever, there were now four years before the next elections.  Councillor Smith commented that these two factors presented a chance for the Council to work differently.  There was an opportunity to work collaboratively for the benefit of residents, villages, South Cambridgeshire as a whole and the Council.  She noted two steps already made towards that goal in offering the Chair of Scrutiny and Overview Committee to Councillor Chamberlain and the Chair of Council to Councillor Dr. de Lacey.  Additionally she was pleased to learn that Councillor Ellington would continue to apply her experience of the health sector to the benefit of the Council.  The support of the other Group Leaders for her Group to cede two committee places to Councillor Dr. de Lacey was also appreciated.


Councillor Smith outlined her plans to move to a system of pre-scrutiny rather than post-scrutiny, noting that this would give Members more influence over shaping decisions, policy and strategy.  Cabinet members would focus on priority delivery rather than service areas and would take a whole cabinet approach to decision making.  Cabinet meetings would be public and participation by Members and the public would be welcomed.


Councillor Smith then highlighted her three “day one” priority themes as follows:


(i)    Affordable homes – plans included:

·         Working to deliver good quality market housing, of the right mix, quickly and in the right places to meet the needs of all ages;

·         Ensuring that all development was associated with the proper infrastructure;

·         Recognising the impact of new communities on the immediate surrounding area, working closely with residents in neighbouring villages both when the developments were complete and when being built;

·         Working to increase the amount of truly affordable housing; and

·         Reviewing the overall housing strategy.

(ii)  Putting the environment first – proposals included:

·         Integration of a concern for the environment and sustainability into everything the Council did, both independently and through partnerships;

·         Driving how the District dealt with climate change through the Council’s policies and actions;

·         Using the opportunity with promotion of the Cambridge to Oxford corridor by playing a key role to ensure that investment in natural capital was central to the changes that this would bring;

·         Working to ensure that each development left an associated positive environmental legacy; and

·         Establishing a new Climate and Environment Committee to oversee work under this priority area.

(iii)Actively support business growth – plans under this priority included:

·         Working to give pro-active support for businesses ensuring that the Council’s services were focused on their needs;

·         Taking a lead on the impact of Brexit in South Cambridgeshire, supporting businesses with the staffing challenges faced; collaborating with business groups and others to understand how Brexit would impact on the area; and

·         Establishing a new Brexit Working Group to co-ordinate these efforts, which it was hoped would include members from adjacent councils and all political groups on the Council.


In order to achieve these priorities, the Leader considered that there was a need to transform the way in which the Council worked to make its work transparent, responsive, open and honest.  She outlined proposals to review the Council’s grants system to ensure that grants given had the most impact on those in greatest need.  A new Grants Advisory Committee would be set up to develop policy driven criteria for all applications. The Leader additionally commented on the need to find effective ways to manage shared services and noted that she had started discussions with Cambridge City Council on how a system of joint scrutiny of shared services could be set up.


The Leader concluded by outlining her vision to make the Authority a considerate and responsible Council that:

·         Was green to its core in everything it did;

·         Welcomed change for the benefit of residents and businesses; and

·         Worked hard for those residents who were the least well off and who could not afford a home or were struggling to access essential services.