Handling of overview and scrutiny committee meeting criticised

THE handling of the first Conservative chaired overview and scrutiny committee at Brentwood Council has been slammed by opposition members.

The Lib Dem group criticised their counterparts after an agenda item regarding the Hutton Community Centre project had to be deferred when it was discovered correct procedures had not been followed.

Opposition councillors had called-in the plans for the meeting, the first to be held since Karen Chilvers was replaced as chairman controversially by Tory Noelle Hones in October after criticisms of her leadership of the committee. 

However, the item had to be deferred after it became apparent procedures such as pre-meeting talks and ground rules for the meeting had not been done.

Ms Hones adjourned proceedings to discuss options with council officers before the deferral was made, something Ms Chilvers, who was one of the callers-in, described as "shocking".

The Lib Dem councillor said: "I asked about the call-in meeting and it quickly transpired that procedures had not been followed.

"Never before have I seen a committee be adjourned with the chair, vice-chair and three officers leave the chamber to discuss it.

"And to think one of their reasons for hounding me out of office was for asking officer advice during the meeting."

Ms Hones defended the handling of the meeting and said what took place on the night would not happen again.

She said: "Once it came to light that the full extent of the procedure for the call-in had not been followed, it was immediately deferred to ensure a fair and proper process.

“I am working with officers to ensure the call-in moves forward swiftly and in line with the procedure outlined in the Council’s Constitution.

“In order to ensure that this situation does not recur, a full review of the call-in procedure is due to commence shortly.”

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