The incoming Labour administration has suddenly announced a sweeping reduction in the democratic accountability of the Cabinet/Executive. This has been developed in secret, announced just 2 days before the Annual Council meeting and will impose major and detrimental changes to the openness and transparency of the council.
Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton (outgoing Deputy Leader of the Council) said “Cllr Dixon made public promises about retaining an open and transparent council but these proposals, sprung on us just 48 hours before the council meeting, are disgraceful and utterly disrespectful of the established processes of taking such proposals through the committee structures in an open and transparent way
It is deeply concerning that we are going back to a system of scrutiny that all parties agreed did not work effectively and was, through discussion, changed in 2011, creating 6 scrutiny committees and panels, enabling some 33 members to be effective in challenging the Executive decision making process.
I wonder why the incoming administration is so afraid of effective scrutiny and why there is this desperate rush to limit public accountability of their decisions?”
Cllr Charles Fifield, the current chairman of corporate scrutiny said “We have overseen a very effective scrutiny role that has held the Executive to account; this is now being reduced to just 1 committee involving 11 members, a 66% reduction. This is very disappointing as it appears Labour are trying to limit proper, open and transparent scrutiny of their decisions, reducing the ability of both the public and councillors being involved in the decision making process. This surely contradicts what the new Council Leader, Sam Dixon, said immediately after gaining control that the new administration would be “fair and transparent”.
I am extremely concerned the new administration do not feel there is any need for separate scrutiny of Children & Education, Safeguarding and Public Accounts, which I am sure residents of West Cheshire would agree should be our highest priorities.”
There was no mention of changes to Scrutiny in Labour’s Manifesto.