DISTRICT councillors ‘must do their homework’ if the authority is to function properly, the leader has stressed in the latest installment of the wheeled bin controversy.
Coun David Hughes made the plea to senior members at the latest executive board meeting during talks shining a spotlight on how the council makes decisions, following anger at the introduction of the waste collection system.
The leader admitted the authority ‘could do more’ in the interest of openness and transparency but urged councillors to read reports and raise any questions at an early stage rather than ‘wait until the last minute’.
A report coined as ‘Lessons to be learned’ which has investigated how the council bid for Government funding to introduce wheeled bins in 2012 was tabled at last week’s meeting outlining ten ways which the council could improve decision making in the future.
The recommendations state the process should be more open and transparent and call for all councillors to be told about any proposal which would change the way services were delivered. The report also declares it should be made clear what councillors are voting on.
Coun Hughes said he accepted the findings of the report despite claiming it contained ‘inaccuracies’ and ‘misconceptions’.
“We are already doing many of things recommended but I accept we can do more to improve.
“But for any democratic process to work requires the application of members and I urge councillors to do their homework if they want to make a difference and not just make political points.
“Members should always have the opportunity to look at reports, and I would ask them to make every effort to read them. It is important when we get to meetings the majority of concerns are addressed.
“It doesn’t oil the machine if we use the machines to ‘have a go’ or raise surprises.
“We don’t want to suppress anything but I find it difficult to accept when things are brought up at the last minute. We must be more professional.”
Coun Tom Wells, leader of the Liberal Democrats group, had formally called for the investigation and welcomed the report, although he branded last week’s discussion a ‘disaster’ after some board members expressed uncertainty on whether they were supposed to vote on the paper or not.
“This is ridiculous. It is hugely ironic we are going to fall at the first hurdle with this.”
However after further deliberation the recommendations were approved by a majority vote.
The matter will be reviewed in 12 months’ time when the overview and scrutiny committee will be charged with producing a progress report scrutinising the council’s decision making process with regard to the ‘Lessons to be learned’ findings.