When the Annual Council meeting next week appoints members to committees at the beginning of the new Municipal year Liberal Democrats will not take the Scrutiny Committees places allocated to their party.
Scrutiny committees are there to hold the Council Executive to account, to assist with the development of Council policy and to make suggestions for improvement in areas of underperformance.
However, an experienced and independent team from the Local Government Improvement & Development Agency with wide knowledge about the effectiveness of Scrutiny in other areas said in March this year that Luton’s Scrutiny process was too much under the control of the Executive; had the wrong kind of leadership; has achieved very little; is not holding the Executive to account and is adversarial, directionless & leaderless. They also concluded that to work properly, Scrutiny committees should have opposition chairs.
“We have really tried to make it work”, says Liberal Democrat leader, David Franks.
“But because of their obsession with controlling absolutely everything, Labour has always insisted on taking all the Chair positions and although Scrutiny is supposed to be completely independent of the Council Executive at every turn Labour Executive members have wrecked the process.”
“A number of members came to the conclusion that Scrutiny in Luton was not working and some Labour members worked with us to reach an all-party agreement on a way to make Scrutiny more positive. Then, just as the new plan was about to be implemented, the Labour Leaders, who should not be interfering in the work of Scrutiny anyway, tore up the all party agreement and imposed their own proposal over the heads of their own Labour Scrutiny members.”
“They are now complaining because Liberal Democrat members will not get involved in yet another all party group to find a solution. We’ve done that before, achieved full agreement and Labour’s Leaders tore it up. Why should we believe they will behave differently this time?”
“It is really sad that it has come to this, but we cannot tolerate this charade any longer so have decided to end the pretence that Scrutiny can achieve anything given the current attitude of the Labour leadership.”
“I simply cannot keep asking my Liberal Democrat colleagues to try to make it work when the Labour Leaders are determined to control absolutely everything and to block any avenue for their actions to be questioned.”
This will not affect their places on all the other committees and bodies and will not affect their ability to serve the best interests of their own Ward constituents or the town as a whole.