Tonight I attended my first Scrutiny Programme Board meeting. After all the preliminarys we got into the meat of the Agenda.
One of the roles of the Scrutiny Board is to determine which scrutiny committee any items that are ‘Called In’ from Cabinet should be sent to. This entails trying to get the committee together with Officers at quite short notice, to meet for about five minutes to delegate the call in to a committee. I suggested that the use of telephone, video or email conferencing should be explored in order to speed up a cumbersome process – whilst there was no outright disagreement there appeared to be an awful lot of suspicion from the Labour members! Anyway it was eventually agreed that Officers would look into what may or may not be possible and bring a report back.
Then we got into setting our work programme, I suggested that the Board should look at the process and timescales for determining standards complaints. Why? well put simply, I dont believe this Council is good at dealing with complaints quickly and efficiently, with instances of complaints taking over two years to resolve, the Director of Law, the Head of Service and the Chief Executive are all aware of my concerns. Labour Councillors for New Brighton, Pat Hackett and Pat Glasman appeared suspicious of the motives for bringing this forward, with Cllr Hackett saying he thought some members were being ‘bounced into this’. Thankfully common sense prevailed and it was agreed that Officers would bring forward a report showing what has gone before, and were we are today with the status of complaints. I think once members see that document they will understand why I have real concerns over this matter!