Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Hit And Miss

Living within your means is one of the things the Labour-TIG Alliance is going to have to learn and from the looks of things its going to be learnt the hard way looking at tonight’s two-hour long Overview & Scrutiny Panel.

First off, I said in the preview, I couldn’t find the Scrutiny Arrangements report which would have the financial consequences of the OSP decisions attached to it. Well its not ready and so has been deferred. That is worrying in light of the remainder of this report.

We started off with a statement from Driver in his role as Chair asking Harrison to remove himself as Vice-Chair. I don’t know the procedural rules but Im a little surprised that Driver has so much influence in the process as to make such a demand given he is indeed the complainant and cannot possibly be impartial. I missed the last section of the statement so will wait for the Minutes to come round next week. Cllr Marson read a statement on behalf of Bob Bayford.

To lay out the facts, there will be sub-Groups looking into the NHS Clinical Review, Universal Credit and the East Kent Spatial Development Company on top of the Shared Services, Electoral Registration, Corporate Improvement & Budget and Airport Working Party. Don’t forget the Cabinet and Officer Presentations which always take a good chunk out of any agenda time, however informative it might be.

Driver didn’t get it all his way. He wanted Shared Services to be taken under Governance & Audit rather than OSP but was persuaded otherwise. Most Councillors wanted it to remain in OSP and Cllr Scobie at first wanted it to be put under Corporate Improvement & Budget Working Party. Given its importance in Council strategy and provision of services, the idea of it going anywhere but OSP didn’t appeal, certainly not to me. Also dropped was an idea to make Crime and Disorder Review part of Main Panel business rather than a Working Party but it was believed that the detailed evidence was best dealt with in its current process.

The “public call for scrutiny” idea was also rejected after Members including Harrison and King argued there were other ways of achieving this without it, for example residents talking to Ward Councillors.  He also dropped the Social Housing Group idea in light of the coming Housing Strategy.

As you can see, even with the dropped ideas, there’s a very full programme and put into place without any Options report and thus no idea of what resources are available.

To take one example, the NHS Clinical Review Group will try and follow the process of the consultation due in September and try to inform the Councils view on it. This has a big risk of going political, whatever Driver’s protestations, and this is already being done at County level so the question needs asking what the value of this Group will be, above that at KCC. The terms of reference to this Group will have to be very carefully weighted. Will this happen? Wouldn’t bet on it. I would imagine this one could be tough resources wize as well given the amount of work being done on this Review outside TDC.

So, there we have it. Driver got most of what he wanted, but it's all conditional on there being resources. Welcome to the new Council year. Let the fun begin… 

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