News council-chamber

A discussion at today’s Council Executive Board meeting on procurement described as a ‘boring subject’ turned into an interesting debate on scrutiny.

The crux of the issue surrounds scrutiny of reports put forward for discussion. Several councillors stated they were concerned that reports had not gone before relevant Scrutiny Committees, whereas the Executive Board defended their position saying it was up to Scrutiny Committees to make the requests themselves.

Items up for discussion are placed on a ‘Forward Work Programme’ monthly, and from that some are called for scrutiny prior to going before the Executive Board.

One issue highlighted this afternoon was procurement issues, which report had not been before a scrutiny committee. Another referred to the development of new internet services to allow the Council to provide access to systems and services 24/7 online, again something that does not appear to have gone before a Scrutiny Committee.

At one point the debate was described as ‘tit for tat’ and ‘political games’, as those on the Executive Board pointed out they did not decide what gets called in for scrutiny and that it is up to those heading the Scrutiny Committees themselves to do that.

On the other side of the argument a ‘disconnect’ between the work programme and the eventual Executive Board reports was noted. One Councillor told the Executive Board that they were being ‘naive’ to think full information was available, and another saying “We are dealing with more late items, if we like it or not the Exec Board agendas we see in advance bear no resemblance to how they end up”.

The meeting was told by the Executive Board: “It is up to scrutiny to scrutinise anything and everything they want. We are dammed if they do dammed if they don’t.”

One Councillor addressed the Executive Board saying “There are another 42 of us aside from exec board who share the passion of the Executive Board and would like to be included.”

The Executive Board is made up of the Council Leader and nine other Councillors, and for those who wish to learn more about the roles of the Council you can read the constitution via this PDF on the Council’s website.

Picture: The Council Chamber with a pantomime king. We cannot have video, pictures or audio from todays meeting as we are not allowed thus using this ‘stock photograph’. Interestingly part of today’s meeting was under ‘Part 2′, in secret which as well as the reporting restrictions detailed. This means even if we could broadcast audio and or video, we would be booted out for the secret sections. This of course limits the scrutiny possible from the public – however there will soon be Council TV! (More here!)