This below was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org this morning. Watch this space.
I am interested (some might say “obsessed”) around council decision-making processes on the European boulevard also known as Great Ancoats St. (GAS).
As you may recall, in July 2019 the members of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee (now minimally rebranded as something else, but that’s another story), discussed the consultation process around the Great Ancoats St resurfacing, sorry “transformation.”
The members of the committee, all elected, put a recommendation that the proposed work, due to start imminently, be paused while a consultation worthy of the name was held. That was their recommendation to “the Executive.”
Now, we in the public gallery got a real political education shortly after when one of us (I won’t be coy, it was I) wrote to a Council officer (sadly now retired) who was as helpful as I hope you will be. He told us that “Executive” has multiply meanings, and that in this case could simply mean Executive Member.
And the Executive *Member* decided to simply ignore the recommendation. In September 2019 the Committee unanimously expressed its dismay. The work went ahead and was a complete clus… well, there are rules about swearing in FOIAs, so let’s move on.
So, my questions are these.
1. Does a scrutiny committee have the power to specify ITS understanding of “Executive” when making recommendations? If it made a recommendation that “we recommend that the Executive – by which we mean the 8 elected members and the SMT – look at this again” would this have had any legal standing/constrained the, ah let’s call them, prerogatives, of the individual politician who chose to say “L’Executive? C’est moi” on this occasion?
2. If a scrutiny committee does NOT have this power, is it not the case that any given Executive Member can simply disregard recommendations that any scrutiny committee makes, rendering the whole um, “process” a… what might the phrase be… clus… I mean pantomime? Oh yes it is? Oh no it isn’t? Please inform.
3. Specifically around the Great Ancoats St debac… decision, I would like to copies of any and all correspondence, for the period 1st July 2019 to 1st November 2019 between the Executive Member for “Environment,” Transport and Planning and the City Solicitor and her office around the legal position of the first consultation, the need/desirability for a do-over.
4. Given that this decision was of great interest to the Council’s member for walking and cycling, I would like copies of any and all correspondence, for the period 1st July 2019 to 1st November 2019 between the member for walking and cycling (I heard a rumour that it is Mandie Shilton-Godwin) and the Executive Member for ETP and between her and the City Solicitor/her officers.I am particularly interested in whether there was any correspondence, initiated by any of above parties, about the GAS, before or after the July NESC meeting. Given that this decision, to not have cycle lanes, should have been of very great interest to the member for walking and cycling, I expect there is a vast amount of correspondence between the parties. Fingers crossed I am not disappointed, and that my overweening process obsession can find momentary satiation.
Sorry, almost forgot! Please consider this a Request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Dr Marc Hudson