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FOREST Heath District Council has approved plans to change the way it operates.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council on Tuesday, members agreed to adopt a new Leader and Cabinet Executive system from May.

The change will see the council scrap its committee-based system, with six cabinet members working alongside the leader.

Each member will be selected by the leader and given responsibility for a specific portfolio - taking in areas including Planning, Housing and Transport, Environment and Waste and Health, Leisure and Culture.

The public’s interaction with the council will also change, with the publication of a Forward Plan each month.

The publication will contain forthcoming ‘key decisions’ to be taken in the following month.

These decisions include anything which would result in the expenditure of £25,000 or more, decisions contrary to an approved policy or plan and decisions which require the acquisition or disposal of any land with a value in excess of £300,000.

The change comes as Forest Heath furthers its relationship with St Edmundsbury Borough Council, with Ian Gallin set to start as joint chief executive of both authorities in the coming months.

David Burnip, Forest Heath’s departing chief executive, said the change was a ‘modernisation’ of the council’s operation, but that its current system had served it well.

Amendments to the plan were suggested by the council’s opposition, but there was broad support for the proposals.

Tim Huggan, leader of the opposition group, said: “The cabinet structure is the way to go and with a small council like Forest Heath we need to be nimble and efficient.”

Cllr Huggan went on to propose a five member cabinet, rather than seven. This proposal was withdrawn as leader James Waters insisted there would be a review of the system after six months.

With the resolution approved, the council will now finalise the decision at a meeting on May 9 at which the new cabinet will be announced.