Friday 6 February 2015

Next week's agenda - Scrutiny sidelined

Please also see later post, 8th Feb; Sidelining scrutiny - Premature and Unconstitutional 

Seasoned council webcast viewers may have noticed that the chief executive is given to the occasional outburst over discussions relating to scrutiny reports, these reports are on the agenda and have often given backbench councillors the opportunity to raise controversial issues when all other avenues have been carefully sealed off.

With Mr James presiding over the working group (and everything else for the foreseeable future) looking at implementing the WLGA recommendations, it is hardly surprising that possibly the only recommendation he approves of, relating to these scrutiny reports, is being hurried onto the agenda next week.

Most of the other recommendations have been shuffled off to the exec board or the ironically titled Democratic Services Committee for further deliberation.

The WLGA decided that issues discussed in scrutiny would be best brought to full council in the form of Motions or special reports, I disagree, the more debate the better and this only panders to the chief executive's dream agenda of powerpoint presentations and civic nonsense.

The scrutiny reports are still there, but are 'en bloc' and 'for information purposes only'. No discussion will be allowed.

It will be interesting to see whether the forthcoming amendments to the constitution relative to the WLGA recommendations happen to include the final removal of the libel indemnity clause, currently suspended. Maybe it'll be left hanging there uselessly and all crossed-out as a lasting memorial to local government idiocy. Perhaps I'll drop Ms Rees-Jones a line and ask.

The full agenda, see here, includes councillor questions and features a very interesting one from Cllr Caiach concerning the costs and circumstances of the unlawful  pension tax avoidance scandal. We look forward to a thorough debate...

The executive board have attempted to prepare themselves for the leader of the opposition's motion which includes reference to several sensitive budget cuts. On Monday this was pre-empted with some executive board budget tinkering and a handful of proposals were rejected, including meals-on-wheels, crossing patrols and youth services. Well, a twelve month reprieve anyway. Known as the annual red herrings.

Expect a speech from Kev about 'we've done our best' and 'difficult decisions' and smelling the coffee...

The row continues over the decision by the Police Commissioner to stop funding for monitoring CCTVs. Another 'councillor question' calls for him to reinstate this funding. It appears however that the Commissioner is sticking to his guns, so to speak, claiming that CCTV is ineffective and if the council want to carry on monitoring the screens that's up to them.

The council, well Pam Palmer, has said they can't afford it and will use their contribution to the funding to keep the hot meals on wheels going instead. By putting this as an 'either or' choice, which may not be strictly correct, it leaves very few options open to those who want CCTV monitoring to continue.

Despite various energetic press releases, accompanied by pictures of piles of money and calculators, none of this is actually set in stone until the budget goes before full council, and the cameras, on February 24th.

Unfortunately, all this effort by Kev and Pam to boost their popularity was completely swamped by the news that their Glorious Leader, Mr James is staying put - and the sickening endorsement they put their names to has put them firmly back to square one.

It would be an interesting time to enquire as to any external legal costs incurred through advising on the chief execs severance application, which included the 'ten options' for departure, and which he has now withdrawn.

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