U-Turn on Policy Development Groups
At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 14 May, the Policy Development Groups set up only a year before were all abolished. It is widely accepted that the Policy Development Groups set up last year have not been effective in developing policy. The solution that has now been put forward is to revert to a committee structure.
Labour Councillors complained about the amount of time spent on discussing the Constitution of the Council, repeatedly changing the way non-Cabinet members can get involved in helping to improve the Council. The only constant in the Constitution Committee’s proposals seems to be that there is no forward progress and everything seems to be reviewed again later.
The Leader of the Council admitted that Health & Wellbeing Scrutiny did not work.
All councillors would support the Leader of the Council in his stated aim of making the Constitution thinner and better. Labour questions why this hasn’t been done and why there are repeated changes that go round in circles.
Ken Edwards, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central, said, “This complete reorganisation of Policy development and Scrutiny follows a highly critical report produced on the Tory System by two professors. The professors’ report suggested a complete overhaul of the Scrutiny System, pointing out that the Tories had downgraded Scrutiny and they had not, as they should, involved opposition members in leadership roles in that vital function. The Tory Leader has now revolutionised the system and begun to acknowledge the mistakes of the past.
“One of the key mistakes is not to create a skilled, highly motivated team of officers to support the Scrutiny Function. There are excellent officers who understand Scrutiny on the Cheshire East payroll, but there are too few of them and they are hamstrung because they have no secretarial support.
“Labour welcomes the changes being made but they will only work if properly resourced. This needs to happen as a matter of great priority as Council services are provided by untried companies created by the Council itself.”
Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, “Cheshire East Council has spent far too much time discussing its own internal structures and not enough time discussing how we can improve the performance of the Council in delivering good, efficient services to the people of Cheshire East. Proper Scrutiny of Cabinet decisions is vital in preventing rushed decisions being badly implemented. The repeated changes to the structures of the Council’s committees make that scrutiny more difficult.”