Owl says: it beggars belief that (a) councillors are banned from asking public experts any questions and (b) minutes do not reflect PUBLIC anxieties!
And what would we do without INDEPENDENT councillors like Claire Wright!
“A recommendation will be put before Devon County Council Chairs of Scrutiny Committees on relaxing the rules around asking questions of members of the public, following today’s Procedures Committee meeting.
I proposed that there should be flexibility in the rules relating to public speaking in allowing questions from councillors on the committee. This was after I was prevented from asking a local GP a question following his submission relating to concerns on care at home, at January’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting.
There was some discussion at today’s meeting and it emerged that other scrutiny chairs (Cllr Rob Hannaford in this instance) exercise discretion for points of clarification. I asked that this be made into a formal policy and it was agreed that the issue would be put before the next Chairs of Scrutiny meeting, which I will attend and make my case.
It is difficult to see a reason to argue against this modest change! My proposal to reduce the length of time that members of the public must register, from four days to two days, was not supported, unfortunately.
BETTER RECORDING OF PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS IN MINUTES BACKED
However, my request for more detailed recording in the minutes of members of the public submissions was backed by the committee this morning – after a bit of persuasion! This is important for the sake of balance. I argued that the committee exists to investigate matters of public concern. And it’s also important for the audit trail if the local health service did (heaven forbid) catastrophically fail and the health scrutiny committee was held to account.
Currently, the NHS presentations are recorded in detail, but members of the public representations are so glossed over in the minutes that no one would have a clue what their position was on the subject or what they said. With a simple tweak this will hopefully now be altered, which I believe more fully reflects what we are are here to do as councillors … which is represent members of the public.”