23/09/06 - I keep meaning to get round to this page - and yet its very difficult to know how to frame it. These committees - by there very nature - are excruciatingly boring to ordinary folk. And - let’s face it - such is the state of local democracy these days - these committees are no more than “consultation fodder” for those whose duty it is to “consult” before they go ahead and do exactly what they wanted to do in the first place in any case!
So the only real value of these committees is as a forum for research and then to act as a pressure group - maybe through the media if we can stir up enough interest.
Even last weeks External Scrutiny Committee - well advertised and held in Belgrave Sports centre attracted only - three members of the public. Although there were members of the Police, Fire Service and Tamworth Council’s Street Scene and anti-social behaviour Officers there.
They were talking about “Operation Teamwork” where they targeted Areas of Tamworth (Stonydelph next!) with a concerted joined up campaign. Apparently the thing that was the most popular (ie “received most complaints” according Tamworth officials) were the rubbish skips deposited around the areas. Well of course they received the most complaints - they were high profile well advertised and people only complained because they filled up so quickly!! I made the point - but they’ll end the service anyway. Too expensive for the Council to keep paying for - ................ Now perhaps if they weren’t so keen to defend legal actions - with hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money - against the very taxpayers who have to hand over that money!!!
Anyway, it seems to me, the only point about this “External Scrutiny Committee” (it was only invented this year) was to give us councillors something not very important at all to do - and to keep us of the back of what I thought we were elected for - to look after the affairs of Tamworth Borough Council. Instead this committee is supposed to look after the affairs of anything that might go on in Tamworth - except inside Tamworth Borough Council. However there are grey areas - like anti-social behaviour(ASB), which involves many agencies. In fact our Chairman put a motion on ASB to Cabinet recently which prompted a Cabinet member to say that Councillors on the External Scrutiny Committee should, “....receive further training on their function as a committee”. Bit of a cheek really don’t you think?
So perhaps that all that explains why I’ve kept this page blank so long!