Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Chairing Way we Work panel

Tonight I Chaired my first Way we Work Panel, this is the scrutiny panel that deals with finance and corporate issues in Merton Council. With it being the first panel and with many new members it involved explaining various procedures and how the panel will operate. Having been a new member only four years ago, I know how baffling it can all be trying to find your way around and understanding the issues that are discussed.

The meeting went on for two hours and despite having chaired numerous meetings I felt pretty exhausted by the end.

Still I have chaired a lot more difficult meetings in my time as a councillor. Indeed having been appointed Chair of the Street Management Panel in my first year as a councillor, the first meeting lasted three hours with a packed public gallery and involved having to deal with all kinds of accusations from the public on some of the items, I can tell you it was a rude awakening and as a Panel which had a great deal of public representations it was not the easiest. By comparison this was easy, though after four years as a councillor and having literally chaired dozens of meetings in that time you do improve over time. If I looked back at what I was like as Chair four years ago, I would in all honesty probably cringe with embarrassment.

Tonight was a great deal easier; the opposition were pretty constructive and even Cllr Rod Scott from the Tories (who was featured on the blog a few weeks ago was constructive). The most embarrassing moment of the night for me was my mobile going off after I had ticked off Rod Scott, a bit hypocritical to say the least. Still it once went off as I was making a speech at full council, I do need to learn to switch it off.
The panel agreed to set up a review group into the new Age Discrimination Act. At our next meeting we are looking at doing a larger scale scrutiny review, e government was suggested. Already the next meeting has a number of agenda items to be discussed so it will be a busy time and with my Labour group budget responsibilities I have a busy few months ahead.


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