“The work of scrutiny…”

25 Apr

..is made clear in a report that was on the agenda at today’s Devon County Council meeting (25 April) .

A SIN correspondent notes:

The meeting which was (as usual) webcast, included item 12: “Scrutiny Annual report 2012/13”.

There are a few interesting comments in the written report emphasising the value to DCC of an effective and independent scrutiny function (eg p7 “Scrutiny is not just about a Cabinet Member of Officers turning up to present a glowing report of progress……..”)

Cllr Brian Greenslade, when discussing the report, said: “The work of scrutiny doesn`t stop just because an election is taking place.”

One Response to ““The work of scrutiny…””

  1. Sandra Semple April 26, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Scrutiny is a legal requirement when a council operates a “cabinet style” system where only a small number of people, handpicked by a Leader, efectively makes all the decisions.

    The other style of operation is the “committee system” which speaks for itself and where ALL the committees are made up of members in proportion to the number of seats held. When you have a committee style operation it is up to you whether or not you also have scrutiny. Often, the chair of a scrutiny committee will be from a different party to the Cabinet (which is the only committee that is allowed to be made up of 100% majority party members.

    The obvious inference is that a cabinet style council cannot be trusted to scrutinise itself and that there must therefore be a way of holding it to account to the public and other councillors for its actions.

    In East Devon the scrutiny function has essentially been silenced because it is NOT the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that decides what it should scrutinise – this is apparently being done by the Chief Executive and the Leader. The Chief Executive seems to have decided what the EDBF TAFF should and should not talk about and even gave himself a place on that TAFF when his own behaviour ought to be scrutinised but so far has not! Others shielded by him from scrutiny, include Mr Nigel Harrison (who has long had a controversial dual role as Economic Development Manager, and as the council- funded ‘Honorary Secretary’ of EDBF). After the Brown scandal broke, the CEO admitted at the next TAFF meeting, that he had instructed Mr Harrison not to attend.
    The Chief Executive persists in hiding behind “sub judice”, but this is nonsense – that only applies if someone has been formally charged with an offence, which can take many months, if at all, during which vital evidence can go missing and people’s and computer memories can be wiped. Presumably the Leader decided that the TAFF should not meet before the COUNTY COUNCIL (not even EDDC) elections. Why is a district council TAFF a county council issue? Will the county stop discussing political issues when district elections are on in 2 years time – I think not!

    What we have here is shameful (some would say, devious), yet we have some councillors openly defending it and others defending it by their silence. How many councillors of ALL parties can live with this and say and do nothing is truly mystifying.

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