Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Way We Work Budget Panel

I tonight chaired the Way We Work Budget meeting which lasted for three hours and scrutinised closely the actions of the Conservative minority administration and their draft budget in relation to the Corporate Services Department and Chief Executive's unit in the Council. The meeting was presented with another set of budget papers which funnily enough had revised further the papers published earlier, paper duplication did not make the meeting any easier to manage. Some of the amendments made from earlier papers seemed to involve a radical change of thinking this included the items on the print service and the deletion of a committee administrator post. Various questions were raised about aspects of the Budget including the proposed savings from 1st January and whether they have to go through Council.

In terms of amendments, we raised queries about various aspects of the budget which will be answered further by officers. In terms of amendments the meeting passed a motion to delete the post of Cabinet Secretary(extra 30K), this was of course opposed by the Tory members of the panel who seemed to like spending money on themselves but not on vunerable people as illustrated by their cuts elsewhere in the budget(we were only considering the Corporate Service and Chief Exec part of the Council tonight). Although growth in scrutiny budget was 15K this was half the amount proposed by the Leech report that reported last year to Council on scrutiny. Various queries were also raised about the viability of some of the changes proposed including pay slips sent by e-mail and delivering the post in the afternoon. The points raised in the meeting will now be feed into the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission next Monday.

Overall the meeting did hold the administration to account even if by the end Sam George the Cabinet member was desperate for the curtain to come down on the meeting.


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