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Conservatives change rules to restrict scrutiny of decisions

April 4, 2009 3:59 PM
Scrutiny in Spelthorne

This change will further erode scrutiny in Spelthorne

A change in the procedures for scrutiny has been proposed which will have the effect of restricting scrutiny of key Council decisions. If the change is passed by the Council it will be impossible for LibDem Councillors to call a scrutiny committee meeting to review a decision.

Under the current constitution any three scrutiny committee members can "call-in" an Executive decision. The proposed change will mean that a special meeting cannot be called unless the committee Chairman agrees. Since the Chairman is a member of the ruling group only items that the Conservatives agree to being scrutinised will be allowed to be "called in".

In the past two years only two items have been called in and one of those was handled at a scheduled committee meeting. So the idea that this was in some way an unacceptable burden or that LibDem Councillors were behaving unreasonably is just not true.

LibDem Councillors have on a number of occasions asked for items to be included on the scrutiny committee agenda, but these requests have been refused. The Tories seem to be unconcerned about whether or not there is proper scrutiny of key decisions.

This change has been described as an "improvement" by the Conservatives. Despite this the Tories did not consult with LibDem members in advance; the measure was "announced" to Councillors by it appearing on the Executive agenda.