UPDATE 25th Sept 2014: You will not BELIEVE the video that I put up later tonight. Finance Scrutiny Committee DID have two officers and an Executive Member in front of them today. With a brief report, circulated that morning that did not address their concerns. To say they were “not happy” is an understatement. Watch. This. Space.
Last month MCFly declared victory on getting some sort of reckoning of the £14.5m “Clean City Fund”, set up with a windfall from the Airport. That declaration was premature. The Finance Scrutiny Committee agenda for the morning of Thursday 25th September is below. If you can spot the item, let me know.
At the August meeting (link here to video evidence and a transcript) it seemed to be agreed that the politicians in charge of the Fund – Rosa Battle and Bernard Priest – would be called to the committee, along with the head of communications, Sara Todd.
There were some basic questions that citizens and councillors have been asking for months;
– what money has been spent?
– what is the nature of the ‘review’ of the fund that has been undertaken?
– why has the instruction of the Finance Scrutiny Committee in June that a public accounting of spending be made STILL not been acted upon.
After the August meeting the chair of the committee was asked if a written report was expected. His reply was that he was “hoping for a written report at the next meeting.”
Last week, having noticed the absence of an agenda item on the £14.5m Fund, I had an email exchange with the chair of the Finance Scrutiny Committee.
I’ll quote from myself (from Friday morning) –
thanks again for your reply.
I consider myself to be a relatively competent observer of council affairs. I am probably the only member of the public who has attended all six scrutiny committees.
Right now, I feel like I am running in treacle, or drowning in it.
I have read this paragraph many times –
“The transcript you have listed below was also from the overview report and would have been sent as a written response, only the committee wasn’t happy with what was sent, therefore, I have asked further clarity, and as the chair I have asked the aforementioned to attend to elaborate on item c in the overview report which as previously mentioned “items for information”.”
– but cannot make head nor tail of it. I must be thicker than I feared.
a) Precisely *when* on the September agenda will this discussion of the £14.5m Clean and Green Fund take place? Will it be at the very end in the “items for information”? Does this therefore mean that members of the public cannot ask questions?
b) If that is the case, why isn’t this a specific separate item on the agenda?
c) When will the written report (see our previous email exchange) be circulated to the committee members and to members of the public? Or will there not be a written report in advance of the meeting?
And again, where is the additional information about what has been spent that Councillor Lanchbury pressed for?
Yours with fingers crossed and brow furrowed
There was no reply to this email, so I repeated the questions on Monday morning.
Still no reply.
This is how democracy and transparency is done in this city. Am I the only person surprised, saddened or angry about it?