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Barking and Dagenham council scrutiny overhaul

PUBLISHED: 12:56 13 March 2009 | UPDATED: 09:31 11 August 2010

A MASSIVE shake up of how the council looks into the effectiveness of its services may mean all councillors are invited on to a scrutiny panel. Labour, BNP and conservative representatives would sit and work together to identify areas that need improvemen

A MASSIVE shake up of how the council looks into the effectiveness of its services may mean all councillors are invited on to a scrutiny panel.

Labour, BNP and conservative representatives would sit and work together to identify areas that need improvement and how this can be achieved.

Changes in local government legislation have demanded a review of scrutiny services must be carried out and agreed by April 1.

Among the new tasks are duties to scrutinise Local Area Agreements, crime and disorder and councillor calls for action.

It was proposed at a Scrutiny Management Board meeting on March 4 that non-executive members should be given a greater part to play by setting up five scrutiny panels.

These would be health, crime and disorder, children's services, housing, environment and employment and the budget.

Several councillors applauded the proposal to bring all political parties into the scrutiny process.

Councillor John White said: "This certainly seems to be the better option.

"But I would like to be able to definitely say all non-executive members will be given a scrutiny role."

He was assured by officers that if this plan to radicalise council scrutiny is approved there was no reason why all councillors could not take part.

The difficulty of holding meetings at times to suit everyone on these new panels was also discussed.

Councillor John Denyer said: "If all 41 members are actively involved in these panels then it could be a positive thing.

"But what happens if some do not turn up? Many councillors also work.

"I would also be concerned about the structure. How would each panel get their message across to the other if they are all working independently?"

Under current plans each of the five panels would be made up of nine councillors except the fifth one - which scrutinises the budget.

This would be made up of five executive members and a representative from each of the other panels.

The idea was applauded by conservative Councillor Terry Justice, he said: "I think it's a great idea. Especially concerning crime and disorder.

"This is something that everybody needs to work together on to find a solution."

Leader of the BNP, Councillor Bob Bailey, said: "If this has got real teeth then I would be interested in it but there is no guarantee of that.

"At the moment the scrutiny management board is hardly worth attending because it is just a rubber stamping exercise."

The other option was to keep services as they are but with the addition of a crime and disorder panel.

All other requirements would be dealt with by the existing board.


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