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Labour puts forward plans for more open scrutiny process


24 June 2014
Gavin Edwards Southwark Labour councillors have called for council meetings to be streamed and uploaded online, in order to make the scrutiny process more open and transparent.
 
The council’s scrutiny committee has responsibility for examining how the council is being run and holding decision-makers to account. Labour councillors have put forward proposals to open up scrutiny meetings by streaming the meetings online and uploading videos for future reference. It is hoped that opening up the proceedings of the committee in this way could also encourage greater interest and participation from the public.
 
The first Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting of the new administration will be held this week. Newly elected Chair Cllr Gavin Edwards said he will work to make sure that the committee effectively holds the Cabinet to account and does more to develop new ideas for delivering services. Cllr Edwards also plans to improve communication with the public, ensuring that residents are able to alert the scrutiny committee of any major issues arising.
 
Cllr Gavin Edwards said:

 
“The scrutiny committee has responsibility for holding to account the way the council is being run. It’s an important committee, yet in the last four years it achieved very little in terms of changing council policy or developing new ideas. Too often the meetings simply consisted of political grandstanding from the Lib Dems to meet the requirements of pre-drafted press releases. 
 
“We're setting out our work programme this week.  My intention is for the committee to examine the detail of delivering Labour’s manifesto pledges, including free swimming and gym use and 11,000 new council homes, which is already on the agenda for our first meeting on 25th June.
 
“Scrutiny is an essential part of the democratic process and I will work with everyone and anyone who can make a contribution to improving the way the council delivers services."
 
Following the recent election results, which saw Labour gain a significantly increased majority and the Lib Dems being wiped out of a number of wards across the borough, the Labour council has been looking at ways to ensure continued robust scrutiny and transparency in the context of a weakened opposition, to ensure those making decisions within the council are still held to account.

At the council’s annual constitution meeting earlier this month Labour councillors put forward changes to the rules for ‘calling in’ decisions of the Cabinet, to enable opposition members to be able to scrutinise Cabinet decisions despite not having enough members on the committee – based on the proportion of seats they hold on the council – to do so under the previous constitutional rules.
 


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