The Conservative majority on Westminster Council have again elected their fellow Conservative councillors to chair all four Policy and Scrutiny committees.
This is despite it being common practice in local government for opposition councillors to take some of these positions, so that Cabinet members don’t get an easy ride during meetings designed to hold them accountable.
In the spirit of proportionality, Labour put forward candidates to chair two of the four committees but during January and February the Conservatives voted to mark their own homework instead.
The local government version of Parliament’s Select Committees, P&S committees are the only forum accessible to the public where Cabinet Members can be quizzed in detail on the Council’s policies and performance. This is more important than ever during a crucial time when the Council is plotting its course out of the pandemic but with very limited resources coming from central government.
In addition, and despite Council finances being stretched further than ever before, the Conservatives will vote this Wednesday evening to create two new Vice Chair positions for the Planning and Licensing committees. These will come with an allowance for each of over £5,000 per year. Labour councillors will not support this, insisting that the chairs of existing sub-committees can be drafted into these roles if they are really necessary, at no extra cost.
Labour’s Chief Whip Councillor Matt Noble commented;
“The Conservatives have always been scared of scrutiny, throwing softball questions to each other at every opportunity, but residents deserve much better. And to suggest the taxpayer foots the bill for these pointless positions following the worst economic slump in 300 years is frankly insulting”.