Overview & Scrutiny is driving me slightly mad!

At last nights Infrastructure Overview & Scrutiny Panel (O&S) meeting I was anticipating talking about highways “tarmac” both full resurfacing and “pot holes” but was told, at the end of the evening, that would be covered by Corporate this evening?

My brain says logically tarmac is infrastructure… why would it be corporate?

Hey ho, I guess we farm the contract out so in that sense it’s corporate but you need tarmac to drive your car or big truck and so to me it’s infrastructure.

At least our white arrows point at pot holes to make it easier for the chaps fixing them to know where they are 😉 Not fit for purpose these new roundabouts as they cause the big trucks to “wiggle” through with their many tyres and huge tonnage making more pot holes.

Cllr Phil Haseler deserves a special mention for being the only Conservative I have heard question ANY of the budget decisions made, at any meeting, when he mentioned that his residents had shared their dissatisfaction that the Advantage Card discount is proposed to be removed and FROZEN for 12 months. The other Conservatives appear to just nod things through!

It is left to the Lib Dems and Local Independents to read the documents and challenge decisions at O&S… you could argue, “Well that’s your job!” and you’d be right but call me old fashioned, I would also like to see Conservative Councillors standing up for their residents and being counted.

Earlier in the day, Cllr David Cannon, had commented on Facebook,

…there is currently only free SUNDAY parking in Maidenhead.
The current proposal is to freeze all current parking charges across the Borough ( except for an inflation linked rise in Business Permits ) and to remove the residents discount.
Our parking Tariffs remains substantially cheaper than parking in other compatible areas.
We have become used to all residents subsidising the car drivers in our Borough and the removal of these discounts will still mean Windsor and Maidenhead both remain cheaper to park in than comparable areas and this should not divert trade elsewhere.

After hearing that I did some research for the meeting… prices are for 1hr and 2hrs…

car park pricing comparisons

Parking in Windsor town centre is 40% more than parking in Maidenhead for 2 hours… there are more shops in Maidenhead… Windsor is prettier… there are multi millions of pounds being spent on Maidenhead… Windsor may get a £1m face lift… well more of a nip & tuck… perhaps just nip for £1m!

Windsor residents pay 40% of the council tax receipts… we should getting a lot more for our money, shouldn’t we?

When it comes to O&S Panels the idea is that information is considered and the panel make a decision… usually, it would seem, on a decision made by the ruling Conservatives. Do they think it is OK and stands up to scrutiny or does it need more research to be done, reports produced and sent to the panel?

Thing is, because the Conservatives are the ruling party, they get an extra vote… 3 for Conservatives, 1 for Lib Dems, 1 for Independents. The committee vote for the Chair, so they are invariably Conservative… what a surprise!

In other councils they put the opposition as Chair to ensure a fairer balance.

There was recently a survey done on what members (Councillors) thought of O&S and when I read this extract from the front page I did question was it a fair representation of the survey… please read below and then review the report (it’s only 6 pages long and mostly tables, so nearer 2.5, an easy read).

Panel meetings

Members identified numerous positives relating to Panel meetings under the new structure, brought in from the start of the 2019/20 municipal year.

The opportunity to present issues of concern and scrutinise evidence in public was greatly valued, along with the opportunity to identify issues and develop solutions, in partnership with Lead Members where appropriate. The ability for the panels to set their own work programme was a key benefit. Meetings were effective when the Chairman had a firm grasp of what they and the panel wanted to achieve.

Meetings, including special meetings, had provided time to enable in-depth scrutiny of specific issues. Reports had been made available in a timely manner with minutes acting as an audit trail. Lead Members had attended when appropriate.

Meetings had provided the opportunity to engage with external agencies and partners, to get to know other councillors, to meet more officers, and to learn more about the work of the council.

Now if you want to read the Overview & Scrutiny December 2019 Members Survey and tell me if you come to the same conclusions.

I plan on challenging our way of doing O&S at the Full Council meeting after this month’s budget Full Council meeting.

I am disappointed by the lack of public attending this month’s budget O&S meetings but then if I wasn’t a Councillor would I be rocking up?

Thank you.


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