Milton Keynes' scrutiny role is 'not being treated seriously'

Councillors are concerned that they cannot properly scrutinise Milton Keynes Council because their role is not being treated seriously enough by the authority.

With the council being run by a one-party cabinet, instead of several decision-making committees, most councillors are involved in poring over issues in minute detail.

Milton Keynes Council

Milton Keynes Council

One of the bugbears of the Scrutiny Management Committee is that the council lacks a forward plan that allows them to see what the chiefs are planning to do with enough time.

Cllr Jenni Ferrans, (Lib Dem, Monkston) said: “Items are not on the forward plan with enough time for us to arrange scrutiny. They are also moved and we are told with zero notice.

“It is important to get items listed in greater time to allow the scheduling of scrutiny.”

She added that council officers were good at answering questions at her Community and Housing Scrutiny Committee but were in cases failing to follow issues up.

Scrunity chief, Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park and Old Woughton) said he hadn’t come across deliberate attempts to bypass scrutiny. But he added: “If the cabinet member is absolutely insistent in trying to bypass scrutiny by putting something on the forward plan when there is nothing we can do, that’s when we have got to start jumping up and down.”

But Cllr Alice Jenkins (Cons, Danesborough and Walton) who chairs the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee, that the scrutiny role is not being taken seriously by some of the council’s own officers.

“The standard of reports is not good enough,” she said. “We are receiving rushed jobs on pieces of paper and are suffering from scrutiny not being taken seriously.”

Cllr Jenkins added that the best scrutiny carried out by her committee was due to hard work behind the scenes to compile research in councillors’ own time.

Cllr Brackenbury concluded that it is ‘essential’ that they get to see what is coming up on the forward plan in plenty of time to scrutinise issues.

The work of the scrutiny committees is due to be presented to the full council meeting on March 20.