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Tuesday 3 June 2014

More on Brent Council Scrutiny

Returning to the Scrutiny arrangements that I posted on on Sunday, it is claimed that they are not to be as they appear in the report before Full Council.  The claimed proliferation of "sub committees" is not apparent on my reading of the report.  I don't see any reference to such groups being formed of councillors taken from the Council as a whole, let along the suggestion that people outside the elected Councillors should be included (which would be a radical inclusion to current practice which really should have been flagged up).  If Martin's source is knowledgeable, I wonder whether these are last minute changes to mitigate the apparent intention of removing the operations of the Council from effective scrutiny.  It all seems a very hole-in-the-corner way of doing things.

I still have the impression that these changes are at best a rather unimaginative scheme to save money, and possibly a comprehensive attempt to do away with public questioning.  Even the oral questions at Full Council are said to be submitted in advance without supplementary, meaning that the officers will write an answer for each Lead Member who will then read it out.

All this strikes me as a far cry from how things should be done.  I have suggested that there are three objectives Scrutiny should aim at.  The Welsh National Audit Office has recently gone through a more elaborate analysis.  What the balance between is is an area where I can imagine lots of different points of view, but it is essentially a matter for political value judgements, not simply a technical issue.  Therefore, it should be the subject of a proper debate and decision by councillors, not simply presented to them as a fait accompli to them within a fortnight of election.

The elected members of the Council should give themselves time to discuss how they want Scrutiny to function, and what they decide should be laid out clearly, not anonymously communicated to Martin Francis.

1 comment:

Martin Francis said...

I agree James. There is more on the Supplementary Agenda re Committee composition and stranding orders. See especially pages 30 and 48.

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