Thursday 7 August 2014

Brent's Super Scrutiny found wanting

Last night's first meeting of the 'Super' Scrutiny Committee of Brent Council, which replaces several specialist scrutiny committees, revealed the weakness of the new system.

Firstly, committee members seemed unclear of their remit and their powers, with only Cllr Mary Daly appearing well-briefed and prepared to ask awkward questions.

Perhaps because of time constraints in the over-crowded agenda, the chair, Aslam Choudry, limited questions from members of the committee, although he did allow the public to speak. On the Garden Tax he was reduced to asking Cllr Keith Perrin, lead member for the environment, and the officer, if they truly believed the waste collection changes were a good thing. Of course they did!

The outcome of the Central Middlesex A&E closure, local health reforms and the Garden tax discussions were anodyne proposals about monitoring and returning to the committee later,

Cllr Janice Long, a former member of the Executive, and one of those calling in the Garden Tax tweeted:
 Signed the call-in on Garden waste, sat through mtg but not allowed to ask questions. Had to email officers. Appalling lack of scrutiny.
The public gallery was crowded for the meeting and the general consensus was that the Committee would have to do a lot better in the future if the Cabinet is to be held to account.


Anonymous said...

Figures new scrutiny committee is just for show with no real teeth

Anonymous said...

Scrutiny Committees have never had any teeth. I know first-hand. It is just a farce to show some level of democracy at work!

Anonymous said...

In my protracted experience of dealing with Scrutiny Committees over a period of 3-4 years, the members never read anything so I got in to individually briefing them before a meeting and they were still ineffective: we would consider it a huge success if at least one member mustered energy to ask a pertinent question & remained persistent till they got an adequate answer. Never happened because none had done any homework to stay with an argument.

They never had enough allocated time for any agenda time so it was always a rush. The Exec Committee never take anything from Scrutiny seriously. None of what is described with regard to the meeting is any different from how things have in previous been regimes.

This committee should be made up of 5 elected members and 5 volunteer citizens on a given issue (ie Campaigners who have often done more homework than members); agenda for a given meeting should never have more than one item for SCRUTINY because the fact that its been "Called in" means there is a level of complexity that needs considered scrutiny. Now there is a novel thought ;)

Anonymous said...

what a waste of tax payers money.noticed they had a great selection of sandwiches and beverages- even more costs and for what ? Quite agreed that if something is " called in" it should be the only subject on the agenda at least give it enough time to really drill down into decisions taken.