The Falkirk Council Scrutiny Committee With Nothing To Scrutinise
Monday, 16 June 2014 13:03
Proof that the current structure of decision making in Falkirk Council is not working is highlighted by the agenda of the authority’s only scrutiny committee held n 12 June.
The agenda contained only two reports, one on Police Scotland and the other from Fire Scotland, neither of which are services operated by the council.
At present the SNP are boycotting the Scrutiny Committee as they argue it does not provide the level of scrutiny required to meet democratic accountability requirements.
The current structure has a single scrutiny committee following a pre-determined centrally agreed annual plan of the issues the committee can review over any given year.
The SNP are angry that the system fails the tests of openness and transparency and are unhappy that,
* The Labour / Tory Administration have selected only 3 topics in their Scrutiny Plan for the year.
* There is no provision to scrutinise the current activities of the council.
* There is no provision to allow opposition Councillors the ability to select topics for inclusion in the agenda.
* The Administration has a majority on the committee despite recommendations to the contrary.
* 8 out of 13 SNP Councillors are neither on the Scrutiny Committee or the decision making Executive Committee and therefore have no say on the council’s decision making structures.
* The role of the full council has been marginalised.
Commenting on the lack of any council reports on their own services SNP Group Leader, Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn, said,
“The Scrutiny Committee with nothing to scrutinise is the proverbial irony of Falkirk Council.
What it demonstrates is that the local authority is not being challenged in a manner that is in any way accountable to the people of Falkirk district.”
“It is ludicrous to say that an organisation with the problems that are brought daily to us as community representatives has nothing it can open itself to scrutiny on with a view to improving the level of service to the people of Falkirk District.”
“it’s time the current Labour / Tory Coalition recognised that in a democracy the role of the opposition is to challenge and hold the Administration to account.”
“This not only improves services being delivered locally by removing complacency and lazy practices but also keeps the council leaders on their toes”
“An Administration that refuses to open itself up to proper scrutiny and hides from challenge can not call itself a democracy.”
* When the current systems were put in place the Police and Fire Reports were to be dealt with by the full council but have instead been used to pad out a weak agenda for the Council’s Scrutiny Committee.