Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Scrutiny & Review Panels - What's the point?

Just returned from tonight's Council Meeting.

It was the one where we all get to decide who sits on what Scrutiny & Review Panel or Statutory Board for the next year.

Before we go any further I should explain, for the avoidance of doubt, that Bournemouth is run by the Liberals. The current make up of the Council is:

Liberal Democrat: 30
Conservative: 19
Labour: 3
Independent: 2

Given that the role of the Scrutiny and Review Panels is to scrutinise the work of the Council you would think that opposition members should take the chairmanship or at least the vice chairmanship of each of these committees.

Strange thing is that we don't. With the exception of the Education and Life Long Learning Panel all of the chairmanships and most of the vice chairmanships were taken by Liberals, using their majority to outvote the opposition each time.

As the wife of one of the Labour councillors shouted from the gallery at the end of the meeting: "So they are scrutinising themselves?"

There's been some talk that we should behave the same way if we win control of the Council next year. I hope that we don't. We should be above this sort of naked partisanship and use the Scrutiny Panels for the purpose they were set up. Which is to independently scrutinise the workings of the council and ensure that opposition representatives take at least the chairman's or vice chairman's position in order that they can influence the agenda of each.

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