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Do you have the teeth to be a watchdog?

PUBLISHED: 12:58 07 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

THE search is on for two independent people who will play an important part in big changes that are to be made to the way a Suffolk council is run.

The residents are needed to join a standards committee to scrutinise the decision-making of the authority when it changes to the new Cabinet-style system of local government.

THE search is on for two independent people who will play an important part in big changes that are to be made to the way a Suffolk council is run.

The residents are needed to join a standards committee to scrutinise the decision-making of the authority when it changes to the new Cabinet-style system of local government.

Suffolk Coastal Council – which runs services in Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Kesgrave and Martlesham – had made its decisions in the same way for 25 years with a series of committees responsible for different aspects of its work.

But these are to be scrapped and brought up to date to be run by an executive "Cabinet" of ten members.

Other councillors will be freed to concentrate on representing their areas and scrutinising the work and decisions of the council.

Critics, though, fear it will mean even more of the council's work being done in secret with the Cabinet tackling little except strategy and major decisions.

More and more of the decisions in recent years have been taken by officers with little publicity about much of the council's work.

To help ensure that councillors and council officers continue to meet the high standards expected of them, a new committee is being set up to act as a monitor for residents of the district.

The standards committee will include four councillors and one representative of the district's town and parish councils, but two independent people – ordinary residents – are also needed to complete the membership.

"We are inviting applications from people with local links able to bring an independent view to the work of this important new committee, said councillor Ray Herring, leader of the council.

"By law, all Councils must now have a standards committee to promote high standards of conduct among those working in public services or representing their local electorates.

"The members of the Committee will not only be looking at this council but also all the town and parish councils in our district."

Independent members of the standards committee should be aged 18 or over, live or work in the Suffolk Coastal district, be aware of some of the issues facing the area, and support the aim that the council should be accountable, open and principled.

Anyone who is a member or officer of the council, or any other relevant local authority, or is a close friend or relative of any councillor or council officer, will not be considered.

There is no formal payment for being on the committee although the council will pay reasonable expenses.

Anyone would like to find out more about becoming a member of the standards committee can write for an information pack and application form to the council's assistant chief executive, Bruce Laws, at Suffolk Coastal District Council, Melton Hill, Woodbridge, IP12 1AU. Completed forms are needed back by August 10 at the latest.

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