West Dunbartonshire Council: Former leader slams Labour over rule change

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The previous chief of West Dunbartonshire Council has branded the authority’s present administration “shameful” amid controversy over deliberate modifications to the best way the council does its enterprise.

SNP councillor Jonathan McColl hit out after the realm’s Labour majority administration handed a movement to alter a number of of the authority’s standing orders.

One of many modifications voted by way of at Wednesday’s assembly will give council officers the ability to spend as much as £2 million of taxpayers’ money “instantly” and with out scrutiny from elected councillors.

Previous to Wednesday’s assembly, unelected officers on the authority needed to search the approval of elected councillors to award any contracts value greater than £50,000.

However the change voted by way of by Labour’s members on Wednesday will increase that threshold by a most of three,900 per cent.

Councillor McColl warned the council they should be ‘clear’ to their constituents to keep away from any claims of impropriety.

He stated: “It appears excessive to be transferring from £50,000 to, at a most, £2m of delegation – and at a minimal, greater than £663,000 value of delegation.

“That’s fairly a rise, even on the lowest stage.”

Cllr McColl outlined that the present £50,000 ‘delegation’ in place is according to different council areas round Scotland, with the one different native authority with related expenditure limits to those proposed being South Lanarkshire, a far bigger council space.

He continued: “I’ve to say I used to be fairly flabbergasted once I noticed what was being proposed by officers.

“I believe it is sensible to take a pause and ensure elected members have a full report to provide them an understanding of the explanations for the change.

“And to keep away from any allegations, as now we have had prior to now, of economic impropriety.

“We actually frequently get allegations, no matter who’s in administration, that officers are main this council.

“Effectively, if we agree the suggestions of the report at present, there isn’t a argument that officers are usually not working the council.

“As a result of we can be granting officers carte blanche to spend £600,000 and, in some instances, as much as £2 million, of public cash with none political oversight or scrutiny.

“It’s simply astonishing to me that we’d even take into account that.”

The change was one among greater than 40 proposed amendments to the authority’s standing orders put ahead by the Labour administration to Wednesday’s assembly.

The brand new standing order referring to the spending of as much as £2 million reads as follows:

“The availability of provides, works or providers can be regulated by these Standing Orders besides the place there’s an emergency involving hazard to life or property or [our emphasis – Ed] the place the estimated expenditure, inclusive of all consequential prices over the interval of the contract, is lower than £213,477 for items and providers, £663,540 for gentle contact providers and £2,000,000 for building (all inclusive of VAT). In both of these instances the Chief Officer involved could authorise the expenditure instantly.”

Beneath the earlier guidelines, each contract award value greater than £50,000 needed to be put earlier than the council’s tendering committee – which has a 6-3 Labour majority – for approval.

An modification tabled by the SNP group additionally included a request that Labour revisit the political make-up of the authority’s sub-committees – a number of of which presently don’t have any non-Labour councillors amongst their membership.

The West Dunbartonshire Neighborhood Alliance, the realm’s group planning board, the shared providers joint committee and the board of the West Dunbartonshire well being and social care partnership (HSCP) have all had no non-Labour councillors for the reason that celebration seized energy as a majority administration in Could’s native authorities elections.

Councillor Jim Bollan of the West Dunbartonshire Neighborhood Get together spoke after Councillor Karen Conaghan, chief of the opposition SNP group, had requested Labour to once more have a look at the problem.

She stated: “The administration beforehand intimated they might rethink political steadiness when standing orders have been reviewed.”

Cllr Bollan stated: “It’s about democracy. It’s about accountability – ensuring the Labour celebration can’t overload committees in order that some members can take a vacation and never come to committees.

“You could get a political steadiness on our committees, and I believe this goes an extended method to reaching this.”

Cllr McColl added: “What’s the administration making an attempt to cover? That’s the query I’m being requested.

“Now, I don’t suppose you are attempting to cover something, however it appears to be like that method to the general public since you are excluding any type of opposition scrutiny.”

The Labour group selected to not make a press release in assist of their place.

The SNP modification, which might have delayed the modifications to council standing orders till at the very least the December full council assembly, was voted down 11-10 in favour of the Labour group’s listing of amendments.

As soon as the movement was handed, Cllr McColl, talking from dwelling throughout the hybrid assembly, might be heard saying ‘shameful’, though when he was subsequent launched, he apologised to the assembly for not being on mute.

https://www.clydebankpost.co.uk/information/23082134.west-dunbartonshire-council-branded-shameful-former-leader/?ref=rss ,

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