No public external scrutiny of the LCC Internal Scrutiny committee?
It seems that in a bizarre report Lancashire County Council intends to discuss the county council’s response to Covid-19 including a summary of the journey so far and the next steps in terms of the recovery phase behind closed doors. In an informal Internal Scrutiny Committee that will take place on Friday 29 May 2020, at 10.00am. Although the meeting will be on Skype it will not be webcast at the request of the Conservative Chair of the committee.
We read” Covering up the democratic process at a time when 529 care homes in Lancashire are infected with COVID-19 with 786 people dead already and no idea how many people have been infected or are infected? With the outstanding question of how many people have died without clear cause especially with care homes? The Conservative Administration decision not to give the public access does not sit well within open and honest local government.
“Scrutiny is there because the public have a right to know and they are able to see why decisions have been taken on their behalf. While being reassured that those decisions have been publicly scrutinised to test the validity of those decisions thus making them more robust. Ensuring that lessons are learned and good practise is promoted.
“This closed-door policy is part of a series of decisions taken by the LCC Conservative Administration using COVID-19 as a cover to avoid scrutiny and prevent public access to information. Cllr Driver has made it quite clear, which he confirmed in the Cabinet Meeting 14 May 2020 that as the administration, his Conservative Group are not prepared to work with any member of the opposition during this crisis. They do not believe that democracy is a priority. They have also created a childlike code, that if people receive a blank email back, that means they have put their request in the bin.
“This has not only happened to councillors but also members of the general public who sent in a petition. Councillors have had to resort to using the Freedom of Information Act to get answers from the council regarding C0VID-19.
“Cllr Azhar Ali, Lancashire Labour Leader said “Labour along with the other opposition groups on the council have tried to work with the Conservatives to support local people. Unlike the rest of the country Lancashire Conservative Administration have not only refused, they have turned it in to a childish joke at the expense of communities right across Lancashire who like us believe we should all be working together to get through this crisis”.
“The people have a right to know what their council is doing especially during this crisis. Even at the Cabinet meeting today I asked Cllr Driver to reconsider their group’s position and they flatly refused to do so and confirmed that they would not work with other councillors. Our door has always been and will remain open as it’s the safety of the People of Lancashire that is the most important thing not political party posturing”.
If we wanted a pantomime we would go to a theatre, not council chambers and committee rooms!