Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 30, 2018

Show Us The Minutes

Those of us who don’t attend WLBC meetings but are interested in the council’s business as it affects us rely on minutes of meetings for decisions. Try to find the minutes of the last Full Council Meeting, but you won’t. This, below, is what’s shown on the WLBC website today.
Agenda. Council
Wednesday, 18th July, 2018 7.30 pm
• Attendance details
• Agenda frontsheet PDF 463 KB
• Agenda reports pack
• Late papers PDF 315 KB
• Amendment – Surplus Student HMOs in Ormskirk – Motion PDF 107 KB
• Questions and Responses PDF 189 KB

As also happens there are two items of news today, the first that the Leader of the Council Ian Moran tells us in the Champion  how important the views of people living in West Lancashire are and he wants us to let Council know if we want to speak at five meetings listed. But that invitation won’t extend to what Council keeps secret under “commercial in confidence” to let slippery service suppliers like Serco Leisure Operating Ltd keep schtum about the Beacon Park Golf Course royalties scandal. 

The second item is that OWL Councillor Adrian Owens  has complained publicly that there are no minutes of the meeting referred to above. He writes “No way to run a public authority. The last full Council meeting took place on 18 July 2018 – 42 days or 6 weeks ago and yet no minutes of the council meeting have been published to date. I cannot recall such a long delay in the past. In fact, for cabinet meetings, the council must publish minutes within 3 days. It’s a pity it’s not more efficient with the minutes of full council.

“This is no way to run a public authority. It might be seen as a tedious administrative detail, but minutes perform important functions in an efficient organisation: 1. Meeting minutes offer legal protection and clarity 2. Meeting minutes provide structure. They describe how Council members arrived at reasonable decisions. They record who attended and who was absent along with declarations of interest. 3. Meeting minutes drive action. Good meeting minutes help drive a plan of action for the Council’s senior officers. They clarify how, when, why, and by whom decisions were made. They map out a plan for the action items (which helps get the work done) and they later provide valuable information to those who aren’t able to attend the meeting. 4. Meeting minutes act as a measuring stick. Minutes record meeting decisions, which makes them a useful review document when it comes time to measure progress. They also act as an accountability tool because they make it clear whose duty it was to perform which action. The delay in publication of the minutes is symptomatic of a council that is not firing on all cylinders”.

It might also be symptomatic of highly paid, some say overpaid, senior staff whose eyes aren’t on the ball.


Responses

  1. Err, actually the Minutes of the July Council Meeting can only be agreed and signed off at the next Full Council Meeting, there has also been the summer recess – both facts that should be blatantly obvious to Adrian!
    Another non-story from the OWL.

    • In that case, when it is known there will be such a break in service, the losers are the public. The system makes us all losers and denies us transparency while elected members know what went on. Never mind scoring points between yourselves, change the system and publish “interim” minutes for the public benefit.

  2. It is not point scoring I am trying to achieve, its a degree of political integrity I am asking for. Can anyone seriously suggest that after 18 years on the Council of which there has always been a summer recess with no scheduled Full Council Meeting held in August that Cllr. Owens’ fake news item is credible?
    He must be aware that under every Council in the land, the draft minutes are only produced along with the Public Notice including Agenda in the Statutory period before the next Meeting of Full Council.They are then approved subject to amendment at the next meeting, there are Draft Minutes and Agreed Minutes but no ‘interim’ Minutes. This is done every year. What is it exactly he is trying to achieve, apart from discredit the Council?

    • Political integrity seems to be in short supply here. When it’s pointed out that taxpayers have to wait so long on just one, summer, break, there is no acceptance that the excellent staff under Jacky Denning couldn’t put out interim minutes. Has there ever been a correction of the draft or interim minutes when Council was asked that question after a meeting? The only thing being discredited here is politics and not the excellent Council staff who back up the meetings. I don’t know what Cllr Owens thinks about other councils, I just want this, our, council to be more conscious of the electorate and less concerned about political parties.

  3. The minutes are published before final approval and usually promptly. That is the standard practice.

    Cabinet minutes are published after three days usually 6 or 7 weeks before cabinet then formally approves them. It’s been the same with council minutes heretofore, which makes this delay stand out so starkly. Thank you for publicising it, WLR.

  4. The procedure is correct, the minutes are not a legal record until agreed at the next Full Council Meeting. This is Local Government law which applies to every Parish Council, Town Council, Borough Council, District Council, County Council and Unitary Authority throughout the land. Cllr. Owens is by implicating that somehow the running of the Council is deficient, is an insult to Staff and is plainly incorrect and disingenuous.

    • We can all argue about this until the cows come home, but council tax payers who read these exchanges will wonder why what hinders their knowledge of what Council decided can’t be altered to their advantage. Bring in live web coverage? Why not, LCC does it.


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