Council leaders back 'power to the people' plan

Council leader Steve Darling

Council leader Steve Darling - Credit: Torbay Liberal Democrats

Torbay Council’s ruling partnership has developed a plan to shift more power to the community.

The council’s cabinet has approved a new approach to involve local people more in decision-making, set out in a community engagement and empowerment strategy.

The document sets out how the council will 'work differently' to previous administrations.

The council is run by a partnership of Independents and Liberal Democrats who took control after elections in May 2019.

The Conservatives are the biggest single group and form the opposition.

The council moved to a new system of leader and cabinet in 2019 after voters scrapped the directly elected mayoral role.

That post had been won by Conservative candidates since it began in 2005.

Most Read

The new strategy says the council “will embrace a spirit of cooperation and partnership with the people, businesses and organisations” in Torbay and outside.

It says the authority 'will build trusted relationships with our communities' by talking and listening to everyone and by ward councillors becoming 'community champions'.

The strategy says the council 'will facilitate and work with our communities to design and deliver services and to support one another'.

It adds: “We will have continuing conversations and relationships with our communities. We will celebrate Torbay together. We recognise that we have a lot of work to do but we are committed to changing how we work – moving up Torbay’s ladder of participation.”

The 14-page document sets out the main community organisations that the council has developed partnerships with, and gives a series of commitments about how it will interact with people and organisations.

Council leader Steve Darling, a Liberal Democrat, said at a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday night: “It is about cultural change in the organisation. 

“It is the old cliche of turning the supertanker around, to make sure our officers and equally our members are part of that change, to make sure it is about service to our communities.”

Deputy leader Darren Cowell, an Independent, said: “One of the key things that has been developed through the learning from Covid, is the power of community and organisations to come together, and let that be a legacy of Covid.”

Interim chief executive Anne-Marie Bond said it was a 'significant strategy that sets out the council’s approach' to decision-making.

The cabinet recommendation to adopt the strategy as part of the council’s policy framework is set to be approved at a meeting of the full council on Thursday, February 25.