Author Topic: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?  (Read 5489 times)

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Offline Chris Watts

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Answer: When the question is ignored and completely omitted from the published minutes.

Special Cabinet Committee meeting dated 31st March 2010:

I raised a point of order regarding the minutes of the previous cabinet meeting. This has been included in the minutes. 

I then asked if the Deputy Chief Executive's investigation into the Directorship of Digital City had taken into consideration that I had been informed twice in writing, in response to scrutiny questions in Jan and Feb 2010, that SBC had stated that they have a director on the board.

I refer to these statements:

Scrutiny Answer Received 14/01/2010:
"The Council has one Director representing its interests on the Digital City Board. The Board of Digital City total 3 Directors (including one Chair). "

Scrutiny answer Received 15/02/2010:
"the Council retains one of three seats on the board"

I duly awaited the answer in writing. :-\

It's hard not to take this personally. :(

Looking at the minutes the question (and answer) would have not sat happily as the last public question when you take the next paragraphs into consideration.

http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4181&T=1&J=3




Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2010, 07:31:16 am »
Chris I was not there so I cannot comment, however I would suggest you take this up with your local ward councillors.
All posts on this forum are my own and do not represent the views of any council or any political party.  :banana:

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2010, 09:21:40 am »
Thanks Steve. That would be Dave Wood.

I have challenged the minutes with the officer for the special cabinet meeting but he has informed me that as they have been signed off they can not be amended.  He does concede that, although I had the opportunity to challenge the minutes, due to the fast turnaround and easter break that opportunity was limited.

I also asked the same question at scrutiny committee meeting on the 8th April. The blanket statement that all questioners received in response to public questions at this meeting also seems to have side stepped this question. The minutes have not been published yet. I will request a copy of the draft minutes from the committee officer.


Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2010, 12:25:31 pm »
Are you going to the next Scrutiny Meeting to ask why this was allowed to happen?

The next question is to ask who will be the next Chair of Scrutiny?

How about Councillor Peter Mallinson as Monty seems to have accepted the post has gone elsewhere.

Offline komadori

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2010, 11:08:52 pm »
Answer: When the question is ignored and completely omitted from the published minutes.

Special Cabinet Committee meeting dated 31st March 2010:

I raised a point of order regarding the minutes of the previous cabinet meeting. This has been included in the minutes. 

I then asked if the Deputy Chief Executive's investigation into the Directorship of Digital City had taken into consideration that I had been informed twice in writing, in response to scrutiny questions in Jan and Feb 2010, that SBC had stated that they have a director on the board.
My notes suggest that you actually did it the other way round: question about whether they'd taken into account the response to scrutiny questions first; point of order regarding the minutes of the previous meeting second. Either way, Mr Bluh's answer to the more substantive question has not been minuted.
If something's worth doing it's worth doing in green. komadori's green c

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2010, 11:21:49 pm »
Thanks Komadori. It looks like I should take your lead and start taking notes, if anything to stop me questioning my sanity.

Richard, I think that I will need to go to the next committee meeting to try and sort this out.
Its not acceptable :tickedoff:

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2010, 09:33:48 am »
Are we all going along again en masse or do you want to go on your own Chris?

I do not even know when the next meeting is scheduled?

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2010, 04:28:15 pm »
Hi Richard
The next Cabinet committee meeting is 9th June 2010.
The next Scrutiny committee meeting will be 14th June 2010.

I will be going along to one or t'uther. Looks like you have questions that you are going to submit.

At the moment as far I am concerned something needs to be done regarding the way that public questions are handled. There seems to be a system failure somewhere between the Officers and the Councillors in collating and answering the questions satisfactorily. Public questions going missing, Public questions not answered, speed of response to public questions, answers to public question been signed off by the wrong person and being withdrawn etc. This is just in the six months that I have been involved.

The statuary 15 minutes limit for public questions can also be a barrier, although Cllr Montaut and Cllr Bluh have exercised discretion in the past, much to the vexation of other Councillors whom, i suspect, have forgotten who they represent. I do not think that this discretion will be extended in future meetings. I would be all for limiting individual questioners to 5 Minutes but concession would have to be made in the event of more than 3 public questioners. The volume of questions kind of reflect the performance of the council.

As it happens I have just received the minutes for the Scrutiny meeting 8th April that followed this Cabinet meeting. These minutes have also missed several key questions and responses.





Offline Bogomil

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2010, 10:35:11 pm »
Are you going to the next Scrutiny Meeting to ask why this was allowed to happen?

The next question is to ask who will be the next Chair of Scrutiny?

How about Councillor Peter Mallinson as Monty seems to have accepted the post has gone elsewhere.

KSmall

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2010, 09:21:10 am »
No Bogomil ksmall has had his day and I suspect a Conservative will get the job!!

Offline Bogomil

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2010, 01:03:01 pm »
No Bogomil ksmall has had his day and I suspect a Conservative will get the job!!

Council constitution says it must be an opposition councillor (used to be leader of opposition until they changed it in 2007 to allow David Glaholm to take it)
They would have to change it again if they wanted to give it to a Conservative and I don’t think that would sit well with the audit commission.
KSmall  :) looks like the Tories might bring him out of the wilderness as a way to get back at Monty.  :WTF:
 
Oh for some grown up politics

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2010, 06:56:19 pm »

Unless the ConDem alliance manifests itself locally and it is offered to one of Swindon's 4 new Conservatives.   

Offline Bogomil

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2010, 07:29:33 pm »
Well it can be any opposition councillor, which includes the Lib Dems and the Independent

Offline Bobby Bingo

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2010, 08:06:54 pm »
Once Harrison has finished sabotaging SpecSavers he may get the job.
Bobby

Offline Bogomil

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2010, 11:42:10 pm »
Well it can be any opposition councillor, which includes the Lib Dems and the Independent

True, although it has to be said that the independent is the only opposition Councillor who holds a recognised qualification in Scrutiny. 

Councillor Mallinson recently asserted that 'common sense' was qualification enough but I believe, based on the recent activities and decisions of the scrutiny committee, that what common sense did exist within the conservative members of the committee has been eclipsed by political expedience and self interest.  This might be lessened slightly now that Councillor Tomlinson has moved along to Westminster, but I'm expecting to see the Rodigarch tighten his grip on the committee reins even further.

Swindon Borough Council has, again and again, proved that it is incapable of and cannot be trusted to scrutinised itself.

Offline Bogomil

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2010, 09:56:39 am »
Well it can be any opposition councillor, which includes the Lib Dems and the Independent

True, although it has to be said that the independent is the only opposition Councillor who holds a recognised qualification in Scrutiny. 

Councillor Mallinson recently asserted that 'common sense' was qualification enough but I believe, based on the recent activities and decisions of the scrutiny committee, that what common sense did exist within the conservative members of the committee has been eclipsed by political expedience and self interest.  This might be lessened slightly now that Councillor Tomlinson has moved along to Westminster, but I'm expecting to see the Rodigarch tighten his grip on the committee reins even further.

Swindon Borough Council has, again and again, proved that it is incapable of and cannot be trusted to scrutinised itself.

Well maybe the Independent needs to put themselves forward for the chair of scrutiny position then. I can’t see why the other opposition parties wouldn’t support this if they felt that the Independent was the best qualified to do the job, after all it’s far more important to have the best person for the job than to be partisan.

Sorry to quote an old Conservative but “No Government can be long secure without a formidable Opposition” (Benjamin Disraeli) and maybe the lack of effective opposition and scrutiny is the real problem with Swindon’s Conservative run Council.

Offline Mart

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2010, 11:29:49 am »
Scrutiny apparently means:

close examination; minute inspection
a careful, continuous watch; surveillance
a lengthy, searching look


Seems to me we all do that with various degrees of expertise and success regarding SBC. From you slightly disturbing types who adopt a painstaking forensic approach, to the likes of meself who sit in the cheap seats and mutter expletives now and again. So, for it's tangible achievements and faith it inspires in me a body that is clearly part of the body it claims to 'look at' is pretty pointless. Innit? Seems to be that's the view held by those being looked at.

'Ooooh no, best not do that, we'll get a right good looking at'.

No, what we need is a completley seperate body of right bastards with unlimited powers to be, erm, right bastards. Could just convert one of the many quangoes, they could do some useful quanging then instead of concerning themselves with artichoke production methods in Norfolk.

I quite fancy:

A tribunal formerly held in the Roman Catholic Church and directed at the suppression of heresy.
An investigation that violates the privacy or rights of individuals.
A rigorous, harsh interrogation.


Inquisition, particularly like options 2 and 3, you know, hot pokers and everything. I would favour waterboarding as long as they are not on a meter. If we could have cloak wearing and dodgy Spanish accents that would be marvelous.

Keen on purge as well.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2010, 12:55:39 pm »
Scrutiny apparently means:

close examination; minute inspection
a careful, continuous watch; surveillance
a lengthy, searching look


Yes. Unfortunately though, the majority of SBC's 'scrutiny' committee have redefined this as:


"Ooh, that could be politically embarrassing for us...
Give us an excuse, any old excuse, doesn't matter how implausible it is, and we will accept that instead of the awful embarrassing truth."


I can think of several people who are eminently suitable for a position on an independant scrutiny panel.  Each of them is intensely disliked by the Rodigarch's administration.
 

Offline Bobby Bingo

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2010, 03:30:31 pm »
I would appoint Steve Wakefield.
A Gamekeeper turned Poacher.
A man that not only knows a lot about local government but of equal importance a man that knows a lot of people in local government
People willing to "shop" there so called political collegues.
Bobby

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2010, 08:49:39 pm »

Council constitution says it must be an opposition councillor (used to be leader of opposition until they changed it in 2007 to allow David Glaholm to take it)
They would have to change it again if they wanted to give it to a Conservative and I don’t think that would sit well with the audit commission.
KSmall  :) looks like the Tories might bring him out of the wilderness as a way to get back at Monty.  :WTF:
 
Oh for some grown up politics

To make changes to the council constitution does the council have to inform, or have it ratified by, the audit commission?

From my limited understanding, I have been lead to believe that the Borough Solicitor wrote the book on the Council Cabinet System and is nationally respected and used as a point of reference. If there is any way that the constitution can be changed to to allow a controlling party member to chair scrutiny then he is your man to find it.

Obviously this is just hearsay but disturbingly I have heard this rumor from several sources. It may just be a Tory smoke screen to make it more acceptable if a Con-Dem or Independent Councillor is given the job. It may also just be Tory bluster to keep Monty on the defensive, bit like the empty threat by Bluh to report him to standards.

Who knows? But if it does go to a Tory I think that Mr Robinson of Stoke Gifford will be receiving a few more complaints.  :fence:

« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 10:35:15 pm by Chris Watts »

Offline Bogomil

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2010, 09:42:05 am »
I would appoint Steve Wakefield.
A Gamekeeper turned Poacher.
:agreed:

To make changes to the council constitution does the council have to inform, or have it ratified by, the audit commission?
No I don’t think they actually need to inform or have it ratified but it is all about good governance. I believe the audit commission (and I’m sorry if I am quoting the wrong body but it was one of the government departments that looks at how councils are run) were not happy when so many of the overview and scrutiny chairs were given to ruling group members. Also IF I remember correctly there were rumblings last time they changed the constitution to allow any opposition councillor to take the scrutiny chair as the original plan to allow any non-cabinet councillor, (potentially a Conservative) to take it were not viewed favourably.

From my limited understanding, I have been lead to believe that the Borough Solicitor wrote the book on the Council Cabinet System and is nationally respected and used as a point of reference. If there is any way that the constitution can be changed to to allow a controlling party member to chair scrutiny then he is your man to find it.
From memory, although I can not find the page on here, someone once wrote on TS about the role of council scrutiny members and the misinterpretation of the role that the borough solicitor insists is their role.

The gist of the thread was that while the later insists scrutiny councillors are only allowed to scrutinise any decision based on it properly following the councils constitutional process, the former commented that councillors were entitled to scrutinise the whole of the decision. Basically that scrutiny councillors were being badly advised and restricted in what their roles actually were and what they were allowed to question. (Hopefully some bright TS spark will be able to direct me to it)  :D

Obviously this is just hearsay but disturbingly I have heard this rumor from several sources. It may just be a Tory smoke screen to make it more acceptable if a Con-Dem or Independent Councillor is given the job. It may also just be Tory bluster to keep Monty on the defensive, bit like the empty threat by Bluh to report him to standards.

Sadly I don’t think the Independent will be allowed the chair of Scrutiny even though they are the best qualified.
As for a Lib Dem chair, again I doubt they will want someone who they are not able to control. I think people are quite wrongly assuming that the national coalition will also result in local closer working ties. IMHO I suspect it will be the complete opposite.

I still think it will be KS for the chair of scrutiny.
Cast your minds back to 2007 and
http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=2090.msg11980#msg11980

I think part of that deal was, “behave or we’ll take it away again”.
Having been in the political wilderness since Monty replaced him as group leader (and financially a lot worse off) I suspect KS will jump at the chance to take the chair of Scrutiny.

Offline kohima

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2010, 12:25:05 pm »
On the BBC morning show this morning, they had an artilce about the council at Bournemouth, who have paid out 3 million pounds for a wave 'machine', designed to create better waves for the surfers, and so bring more of them to the beach, and its proved to be a utter waste, bought from a firm in New Zealand, so the council ere are not the only ones up the creek !!. :2funny:

Offline poemogram

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Re: When is a question to the Cabinet not a question to the cabinet?
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2010, 09:36:00 am »
Answer: When the question is ignored and completely omitted from the published minutes.

It's hard not to take this personally. :(

Chris

Hi Chris

Ignored and omitted from minutes - just about covers it....

Open Question to SBC

What are the policies and procedures or protocol or whatever is current term for Public Questions , their recording, their response, time limits for response, AND where do supplementary questions stand ? - likewise their protocols ??

What is more - when is a question deemed a question and when a comment ?  What can be done if the officer or councillor simply shrugs their shoulders ?

personally ?....  I'll give you personally....

How does one take it when a former chair of education says at committee start words to the effect of "and now we come to public question time or as we've come to know it as 'Tony Hillier Question Time" !!

How does one react when one hears that an internal SBC memo has been circulated by Director of Education which commands that any correspondence or contact from TH must not be responded to but must be referred on to the Director !   ummm..

OK would Freedom of information request reveal the latter ? - I suspect not.

But this old geezer Tony has more or less moved on....otherwise it can emotionally get in the way of positive aspects of life and positive thoughts and behaviours.

Some of us at times sticks our heads above parapets and sometimes it gets shot off or mangled...but some of us would not have it any other way ie omo heads must be raised or we might as well all go home.

So Chris...Stick it to the man but don't let the man stitch you up !

How poetic and coded is this posting !!

Good morning talkswindon - now let's get out in that sun. 

 

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