Friday, 25 June 2010

Glasgow Labour think scrutiny is a waste of time

Yesterday's Full Council meeting was always going to be a tetchy affair - since their new leader was elected, Labour have been foutering about with spokespeople, committee places, chairs, and places on arms length organisations. It's all internal stuff, but it has an impact on how the Council operates, and how the administration is held to account.

As the main opposition party on the Council, we were unconvinced by some of the plans - and in particular the decision by the Labour administration to nominate two Lib Dems and one independent to chair the Scrutiny committees. Labour nominations are in practice unchallengeable given the mathematics of the Council.

The principle of freezing out the main opposition (we have 19 Councillors to the Lib Dems 6) is a bit iffy; to add insult to injury, Committee chairmanship comes with extra money. Labour also decided to reduce the size of the Executive Committee, reducing the SNP places to four, while the Lib Dems have two and the Greens (with 5 Councillors) only one.

The SNP group had also been disappointed to learn via the Sunday papers that Glasgow's Lord Provost appeared to have been using Council cars inappropriately.

Our response to these issues was a sensible one - to ask as many difficult questions of the Labour administration as we could. Among these, we asked about the appointees to Committees, we asked why two more Labour Councillors were being given paid positions on the board of Cordia, we asked about contradictions in Council policies (such as the Air Route Development Fund and the Carbon Reduction commitment).

All of this clearly rattled a few cages amongst the administration - and at one point the Lord Provost accused the SNP of wasting everyone's time. Scrutiny is never a waste of time. The point of the exercise is that we don't get answers when we ask them politely elsewhere. I personally feel as though I've been fobbed off in the past on several occasions - more on that in another post.

The issue of the Lord Provost's car bills is not a matter we can easily raise anywhere else - yet Labour took the very questioning of this as an attack on the office of the Lord Provost. They seem to genuinely believe that the Lord Provost's expenses should not be subject to scrutiny. One Labour Councillor was even heard to call us "sewer rats" for asking whether public money had been used appropriately. We seek higher standards - to pull Glasgow out of the gutter. It's disappointing to see that those with the most to lose don't agree.

1 comment:

Kenneth said...

Shall be retweeting this blog post :D