There is to be further scrutiny of Wrexham Council’s proposals to save £13 million following a third successful request from a local councillor.
Members of the Safeguarding Communities & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee yesterday unanimously backed a topic request form submitted by Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Gwenfair Jones to examine Wrexham Council’s Difficult Decisions budget proposals.
Speaking yesterday a council officer told the committee that there are 25 items within the budget which fall under the remind of the committee and that a meeting would need to be held mid-December.
Cllr Brian Cameron said: “It is important we get the opportunity to scrutinise. Having looked at the Difficult Decisions, I have difficulty understanding some of what is in there.
“As has been outlined, time is of the essence. I’d like to suggest the budget is probably as important, I move we alter the diary and go with the topic request form.”
Chairman of the committee, Cllr Derek Wright said: “We have a discussion in the pre-meeting and said it would be remise if the opportunity was there not to scrutinise what comes under the remit of this committee.
“It has not been done in previous years. I would prefer that we publicly look at details rather just in workshop form, which are seen to be secretive as we are not able to explain to our constituents why we are making the cuts we are making.”
Comments were also made about ensuring councillors attend the budget scrutiny, with Cllr I David Bithell pointing out that only 50% of the 13 members of the committee were present at yesterday’s meeting. He added: “We need to encourage all to turn up, as it is appropriate for their wards and representing their community.”
Cllr Nigel Williams queried if it would be possible to have two scrutiny meetings next month, rather than push the scheduled items back until the new year.
It was pointed out that while it would not be “impossible” for two meetings, there are already other meetings scheduled to scrutinise the budget in the three weeks of December.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of scrutinising Wrexham Council’s budget proposals at the December meeting.
Earlier this month Wrexham.com reported that topic requests form to the Employment, Business and Investment and Homes and Environment Scrutiny Committees had also been successful, with budget related reports due to be examined by councillors in December.
This will be the first time budget proposals will have received such scrutiny from councillors. Looking ahead at the council calendar for December, 15 meetings are scheduled to take place in three weeks, including three ‘special’ meetings to cover the budget.
A final decision on the budget will be made at Full Council in the new year.