In a rather unusual but not altogether surprising step, opposition councillors were not allowed to speak at tonight’s meeting to discuss last week’s call-in of the Family Hubs paper that was approved at Cabinet on 30th April. Here’s what leader of the opposition Cllr Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) would have said, had he been invited to speak.
I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the decision of the scrutiny panel to send this report back to cabinet and that the recommendation of this cabinet is to rewrite the report to reflect what is actually going to happen.
I think it is a great demonstration of grown-up decision-making, and also a demonstration of scrutiny at its best.
The council as a whole can be very pleased.
A report was written and passed by cabinet, the scrutiny panel felt the decision of the cabinet was unsafe, and so sent it back to cabinet, who now, realising that the report was not good enough, are going to bring it back to a subsequent meeting.
Well done everyone.
I’ve noticed quite a bit of very defensive reactions on Twitter and in the Advertiser. But I want to assure the councillor concerned that there really isn’t any need for it. I think we all accept that the report was not good enough so it would be better just to celebrate the fact that the scrutiny process worked — and move on.
Everyone is under a lot of pressure at the moment. Teaching children not at school, looking after or just worrying about elderly relatives, working from home has its difficulties — so it’s understandable that things slip through the cracks — I hope there will not be a blame game seeking out a person to criticise.
We are all in this together
With that in mind, I am keen to be involved in the Cabinet paper that will be coming back in June — as I have said before, I have a number of requests for what it should contain:
- Firstly, a much clearer idea about the next stage, the work we are going to ask AfC to conduct, how the next consultation will be done and how the decisions will be made on the next stage.
- Secondly the removal of the list of centres to close, or at least indicating that this is only an example of what may happen, but obviously that would be decided by further discussion and consultation. Also making it clear that this is not the end of universal services from the council, which are so important.
- Thirdly, and I will use Pinkneys Green centre as an example, it needs to make clear that although we will be going to a hub for Maidenhead, that does not preclude the use of remote locations to run particular sessions. So health visitors, AfC sessions and the Breast Feeding Network will still run sessions together at, for instance, Pinkneys Green on a weekly basis, but perhaps with more flexibility built in.
- Fourthly in the case of youth clubs, that the council would still be prepared to help establish and support volunteer led youth clubs for instance at Pinkneys Green
So well done everyone for sorting this out, please don’t be defensive, but accept it as an example of the council and scrutiny working well, and let’s all put our effort in making this report a fantastic one.
And finally – keep Pinkneys Green centre open!