13 September 2023
B&NES Council has failed to produce any agenda papers for its latest scrutiny meeting.
The Council held the second Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel at the Guildhall this week (September 14th 2023), but once again failed to send any papers to the Committee members in advance on this vital panel.
Green Party Member for Lambridge, Cllr Saskia Heijltjes who sits on this committee said:
“I wanted to be a Ward Councillor to serve my local community and contribute to the Council's decision making. Scrutiny of the Council’s activities are at the core of transparent decision making. I am very disappointed that two of the three main agenda items for the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy, Development and Scrutiny Panel on the 14th September had no papers available and for the third item I was only sent six slides.
With no papers on Liveable Neighbourhoods and Local Food Growing I am not able to prepare for the meeting with carefully considered questions. It also doesn't allow me to do my own research on the topics. I understand there is some information available on the website on Liveable Neighbourhoods, which I am familiar with, but this information is fairly high level with no details forthcoming yet for 9 out of the 15 planned Liveable Neighbourhoods.
It states in the B&NES Forward Plan that the council is committed to openness and participation in decision making and that a formal agenda will be issued 5 clear working days before the meeting and that Agenda Papers can be inspected on the Council’s website. All I have received is six slides. This is not acceptable and I have written formally to the Chair, Lib Dem Member Cllr Andy Waite, on this matter.”
At their first full council meeting in May 2023, Green Party Councillor for Clutton & Farmborough, Sam Ross, asked why Lib Dems were chairing these committees. Sam added,
“The main role of scrutiny is to hold cabinet members who make decisions to account and to help improve local services. With a whipped local Lib Dem group, how can we be sure that the chairs of scrutiny panels are not just marking their own homework? Local government makes big decisions on local matters that affect our residents' lives, and we need to be sure that accountability is always taking place.”