Scrutiny – July 2017

Scrutiny

Our first scrutiny meeting of the council year was on Wednesday last week.

  • 2017/18 Scrutiny Committee Work Programme
  • Executive’s Response to the Task & Finish Group Review into the Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) Process in Trafford
  • Executive’s Response to the Task and Finish Group Review of the Joint Venture Contract between Trafford Council and Amey
  • ADP Report (2016/17 Quarter Four)
  • Discussion on the 2018/19 Budget Scrutiny Process
  • Fire Safety within Trafford
  • Crisis Capability Management
  • Task and Finish Group Prioritising Tasks

Scrutiny is often about small gains/changes. The hard truth is if you want to make a real difference, you need to win elections and it’s now 15 years since we came out of an election in Trafford with Labour in overall control.
Nevertheless we had a couple of small such wins last night resulting from work we did in the last municipal year:

  1. Trafford’s Conservative Cabinet recognised there’d been deficiencies
    in their delivery of EHCPs and had given assurances in terms of
  2. Scrutiny are not going to surprise anyone with our
    concern over the state of streets and parks but we’re pleased
    that there will now be regular reports to the executive on
    performance. At least councillors will begin to see the overall
    performance recorded rather than just having to chase specific jobs.

The issue of responding to customer complaints of fly-tipping, litter bins overflowing, pot holes, grass not being cut etc. will continue to be a focus in the coming year. We have it on our workplan to look at Trafford’s CRM system. We know that it’s a constant frustration if things are reported and the work is either not done or marked as completed without feedback. The interaction with other computer systems is also an issue.

Labour members were keen that Clean Air be a topic for a task and finish group. Conservatives said it was an issue about which nothing could be done.

This is why it’s so important that Trafford becomes a Labour Council. We’ve got to challenge and change the way we live our lives if it’s killing us. We can’t just shrug our shoulders and say nothing can be done. There’s actually quite a lot that could be done to improve air quality. It’s not just an issue of power stations not yet built.

So anyhow, our topics for this year will be

  1. Trafford’s CRM system,
  2. Services provided to Schools by Trafford,
  3. Loneliness

All are worthwhile, it’s vital that we get the right scope at the beginning for each topic.

Addendum - Property Rush - Easy Money for Councils?

Trump

How can you scrutinise when everything is going to be great?

On Thursday, I took the train to Preston for a meeting of the regional scrutiny network.

The main focus was a presentation by Shaer Halewood of Oldham Council on scrutiny of commercialisation activity. Many councils are buying up property for income generation. (Councils bet billions on property purchases)

It’s a real challenge for Scrutiny and for Audit. How do we ensure the council is not exposed to undue risk. How do we assess risk levels of commercial deals when they are shrouded in commercial confidentiality clauses?

Trafford issued a report in December on its approach to this.
https://democratic.trafford.gov.uk/documents/s17341/Investment%20Opportunities%20Report.pdf
And it’s intention to set up an an investment company in managing its property portfolio.
Report 2

We’re now moving to a position where Trafford are exploring potential acquisitions as per the decision of the executive 26 June and there’s a real challenge to cut through.

Property development can be lucrative but as the Times article linked to above points out, so can be the 2:30 at Ascot. And if it goes wrong, "services will have to be slashed harder and taxes put up more".

It was a really worthwhile scrutiny network meeting.

Agent

18th April 11am - Anne Duffield calls me "Have you seen the news? Theresa is going for the 8th June!" "Oh ****!" We're already campaigning hard for Andy…

Some Current Casework

Just a flavour of some of my current casework. I've removed names from an email I've sent. Euroterminal – I’ve been approached separately by a few people regarding…