Councillor Browne calls for greater scrutiny of Council's decisions


Craig Browne, Independent councillor for the Alderley Edge Ward has proposed a motion to motion to be debated at tomorrow's meeting of the full council calling on Cheshire East to allocate all Chairs of Overview & Scrutiny Committees to opposition members as soon as possible.

Councillor Browne said "In 2014, CEC commissioned an independent analysis by De Montfort University. The subsequent report recommended that the Chairs of Scrutiny Committees should be allocated to all groups as a matter of good practise. We are now over four years later on and nothing has changed; all Scrutiny Committee Chairs continue to be filled exclusively by Councillors from the ruling Conservative Group. These Councillors are hand-picked by the Leader of the Council and they receive an additional financial allowance of £7,353 for the job of chairing committees which meet once every two months.

"The role of whichever group has a majority on the Council (currently the Conservatives) is to make policy decisions; and the role of opposition groups (currently Labour, Independents & LibDems) is to scrutinise them. As the representation of Councillors on each Scrutiny Committee is proportionate to the make up of the Council, it follows that the Conservative Group has a majority in the Council Chamber and on each Scrutiny Committee; having the Chairs of those committees from the same majority group, means that this group also has full control over the agendas of the committees.

"This effectively amounts to self-scrutiny and an undue control over the scrutiny process by the same Councillors who are making the decisions in the first place. My hope is that highlighting this issue will help residents to understand how some of the well-publicised issues at Cheshire East have been allowed to arise (police investigations, officer suspensions, air quality data etc) and perhaps why the scrutiny process failed to pick up on them at an earlier stage."

As reported on yesterday, this is one of three motions being tabled by Independent members of Cheshire East Council for discussion at a meeting of Full Council on Thursday, 13th December. The first motion calls for for a comparative analysis to be published for a special meeting of the Council (to be held early in the new year) to determine whether the current cabinet system should be replaced by a committee system. Whilst the third requests that all remaining Committee Chairs are allocated across the political groups in line with the number of members they each have at Cheshire East Council.

Cheshire East Council, Craig Browne


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Manuel Golding
Wednesday 12th December 2018 at 7:55 pm
To be told that Cheshire East Council is run as a dictatorship by eight Conservative councillors, selected by the majority party's chosen leader, now branded as Leader of the Council. for "services rendered", is a gross injustice by the Leader and displays a level of arrogance that is akin to dictatorships. This is not a good advocacy for democracy in CEC. Recently, at the Wlm Artisan Market, I heard & spoke to many people, CEC wide voters, only too ready to voice their abject distrust and even contempt with the CE dictatorial clique. This clique has marched relentlessly over the concerns of its tax paying voters without a glimmer of regard for those concerns.
Of course it is so much easier for the Leader to ensure her and her party's priorities are enacted by her cabal of inner yes men/women. It is suspected that those who strongly disagree with her set course will soon be out of favour, out of the inner circle & maybe even deselected next election round. So no pressure there!
Reverting to the time tested committee system, with a mix of other parties' input, will make life not quite as certain for the Leader but at least the electorate, the ones who vote the yes people in, will get a better crack of the whip.
The Independent group are to be commended and supported for this initiative to restore a clearer democratic process to the dictatorship we unfortunately know.
Please make sure you add your and your family's & friends' signatures to to the petition Also write to your CEC councillor expressing your distaste and concerns with the CEC dictatorship and support for the change with the way CEC is run.
The independent group in adjoining Wilmslow (Residents of Wilmslow) is fully behind the independent councillors at CE in their bid to return open & full democracy to this benighted council.
Please support and vote for local democracy.
Nick Jones
Thursday 13th December 2018 at 11:34 am
We have first -hand evidence of the inefficient / ineffective party-whip politicos in CEC ignoring residents on a grand scale yet leaving them to pick up the tab ; Local Plan, Lyme Green, Air Quality, Decimation of Green belt, Bullying, Asleep on their watch, Co Socious, Hiring’s / lack of Firings, Police investigations, Pay Offs, Duplicitous conduct, failing to merge CEC with CWC … the list goes on. This is a sensible suggestion by Cllr Browne placing residents / voters before party politics. It can only be an improvement. If the edited catalogue of catastrophe’s isn’t enough evidence of why Cllr Brones suggestion is a good idea, our departing Lyme green Cllr comments recently on this same issue certainly are when reported saying he is “quite comfortable’ about scrutiny committees being chaired by his fellow party members.” Is that because it will always be fudged ? and withheld from the public ?.. Publish the Lyme Green report ! and then the icing on the cake … “.. it is just a red herring.”

What is being suggested is a practical solution to the current failed system that in itself smells fishy .. because it is fishy and rotten to the core.. CEC should have been put in special measures months ago… but that was never going to happen under this Govt due to the further embarrassment it would cause. Ironically the most disenfranchised residents here though from my experience are the Tory voters who have been hoodwinked by all the evidenced CEC shenannigins. Is it any wonder Tory Cllrs are jumping ship to become independent ? Well give them the chance ! as they obviously couldn’t do the right when hoodwinked and hamstrung by the party whip mentality. Interestingly Cheshire West don’t have these same issues. Merge ASAP. Meanwhile thank goodness for the transparency and integrity of our independent Cllrs.
David Hadfield
Thursday 13th December 2018 at 12:31 pm
Well said, Nick Jones (above) …. a great post and so very true !!
Vince Fogharty
Thursday 13th December 2018 at 12:44 pm
Regardless of personal party politics there surely can't be anybody living in the CEC area that agrees with how this council has been run, the costs it has wasted on investigations, cleaning up it's mess, paying people off who have been removed, the list is endless! But I fear in May we will be back in the same position. We need others like Craig and his independent colleagues to go up against every seat held by these people and they need to be voted out. They are constantly saying how much change is going on, how much they know they need to change, so what do they have to hide? Why make important decisions in private, why exclude councillors that we have voted for because they are simply not part of the old guard? As a very famous Tory leader once said of the GLC "it is inefficient and unnecessary, and its functions could be carried out more efficiently by others" Time for the electorate to get behind those that are pushing for these changes and get rid of these dictators from a bygone era once and for all.
Jon Williams
Thursday 13th December 2018 at 1:29 pm
What we need first is to join up with Cheshire West (if they would have us) and become Cheshire County Council again
Ian Cook
Tuesday 18th December 2018 at 3:55 pm
Keep shaking them up Craig, well done on your success with these motions