Late report on last weeks Overview and Scrutiny meeting I’m afraid, but a lot went on.
In the preamble Cllr Driver explained his resignation from Welfare Reform Group. As I said before, why he was on the Group to begin with is strange when he clearly had a conflict of interest. Another TIG Member will replace him.
A petition on the Lymington Rd micropub was rejected as it’s a Planning matter. I’m assuming this is the one Simon Moores took on.
Driver also announced that mobile phones will be allowed to be used in OSP meetings, obviously because of the mess involving Tony Flaig. An Officer surprisingly said that their only issue is of the “relaying and recording of proceedings” and that Twittering is OK, even in the public gallery. There really needs to be a clear statement from the Council on what the rules are because there’s a very serious risk of having more than one set of rules on mobile use in the Chamber, depending on what the meeting is, which can lead to confusion.
On Scrutiny Arrangements, curiously Driver started by promoting the Option I was talking about in the preview, but was quickly turned back onto the Labour hymn-sheet of Option A, the OSP Max option. A report will come before OSP on 23rd October, setting out different models of this for consideration. The aim seems to be having 6 sub-Groups under each Cabinet Portfolio and retaining the existing Working Parties I would imagine to the end of the year when they would be absorbed into these new Cabinet Groups. These Cabinet Groups would not be able to form new sub-Groups. The aim appears to be that with it mirroring Portfolios, it can do more policy development. Apparently…
While the direction selected was Option A, it wasn’t by a vote but by a general assumption that it was the way to go. No decision as such was made. There was significant disagreement with selecting Option A from the Conservatives who seemed to lean more towards Option B. It was confirmed that next year there will be an increase in OSP support of 0.5 FTE. This is the first I’ve heard of it but it fits into my expectation that any increase to OSP support will be small.
Moving onto Housing Intervention where Members were unimpressed by the lack of information provided, particularly in relation to the effect on the housing market and possible displacement of people through this. This led to two adjournments, both stepping over the expected timescale. I was impressed by the diplomatic ability of TDC’s Legal Eagle, Harvey Pattinson, in sorting out a deal on a motion to be passed by OSP. He went back and forth from the presenting Officer to Driver and Harrison negotiating a path through and after a lot of deliberation they managed to sort out a motion which was perhaps a little weaker than Driver wanted as main proposer but it’s something for Cabinet to consider at its next meeting.
The Panel agreed to set up another sub-Group on fees at Minnis Bay Day Centre.
To finish on the East Kent NHS Hospital Trust etc sub-Group, the Chairmanship was deadlocked (both Cllrs Wells and Harrison were unable to get a majority), so the decision reverted to the Panel itself. With an Alliance majority, Harrison was carried easily. Talk is the consultation has been pushed right back now to December, if not the New Year, so this forcing of a vote via OSP was unnecessary. It’s possible that this Group will not have enough time to report back with meaningful recommendations before the end of the Council year. More you think about it, the more absurd this situation looks.