Shropshire Council: A One Party State?

Julian Dean

[Transcript of Julian's video log posted on Friday 21 July 2017.]

"So every four years you get to vote for a new Council, new Councillors. What happens in between in terms of checking that the Council's doing a good job? Well, there's a system of what are called Scrutiny Committees. So these committees exist precisely with the job of checking that the Cabinet, which is the ruling group within the Council, is doing a good job and checking that the administration itself is being properly run. In Shropshire, and unfortunately this is the case elsewhere as well, the Chairs of the Scrutiny Committees, who have a lot of power over what is scrutinised, come from the same political party as the Cabinet, as the leadership. So in Shropshire, the Conservatives control the Council, the Cabinet and the Scrutiny Committees.

"Peter Nutting, the leader of the Council, thinks this is democratic. He thinks that because they have the most Councillors that they should control both the cabinet and the scrutiny of the Cabinet. Well, it seems to me it's both not democratic and it's a bit of a recipe for disaster. It's not democratic because there are thousands of people who didn't vote for the Conservatives, who want to see some checking on what goes on in the administration. We don't have a one party state. And actually there's also thousands of Conservatives who are probably quite keen to make sure that even the Councillors they voted for are kept accountable.

"Peter Nutting admitted, yesterday, that he actually chose the committee chairs for these Scrutiny Committees. So he chose the Cabinet and then he chose the people who check on the Cabinet. And they're going to get an allowance.

"This came on the same day that the new portfolio holder, in other words Cabinet Member for Housing in Kensington and Chelsea where Grenfell Tower is, admitted that he had been on the Scrutiny Committee, which was controlled by the Conservatives, just as the Councillors [are]. He'd been on the Housing Scrutiny Committee and he admitted that the effectiveness of that scrutiny is going to have to be part of the Inquiry. That seems to point to the direction that really, scrutiny needs to be led by the opposition. This is what Labour and the Liberal Democrats argued for and I supported them in that. They lost, but we're going to have another look at it in a year. The committee structure's going to be looked at in a year and at that time I think we need to really push to see if we can get scrutiny run by opposition politicians, not making the decisions for the Cabinet, but checking on it. That is surely the role of the opposition."

Julian's Video Log

 

Shropshire Council; a one party state?

Posted by The Porthill Green on Friday, 21 July 2017

Twitter @ShrewsburyGreen