Exeter Labour accused of ‘marking its own homework’ by Progressive Group

The Progressive Group on Exeter City Council have accused the Labour administration of avoiding proper scrutiny by appointing Labour chairs to the Council’s key scrutiny committees [1]. They say Labour are ignoring ‘good democratic practice’ by not appointing opposition councillors to chair the key Strategic and Customer Focus committees. This contrasts with Devon County Council where two out of the three scrutiny committees are chaired by opposition councillors [2]. 

Liberal Democrat co-leader of the Progressive Group, Cllr Michael Mitchell, said:

“What are Labour frightened of? If they are so confident in their programme for the city, why not open this up and allow opposition councillors to set a course of proper scrutiny? Labour are ignoring the good democratic practice adopted by other Councils and indeed by Parliament itself. Devon County Council scrutiny committees have opposition chairs, despite the fact this is a Conservative dominated council. Exeter Labour logic would suggest they hand over the scrutiny committee they chair to the Tories.” 

Green Party co-leader of the Progressive Group, Cllr Diana Moore, said:

“Scrutiny committees probe the work of the Council, and those who chair these committees have a key role to ensure the authority's decision makers are held to account. By appointing Labour councillors to chair the scrutiny committees, Labour is trying to mark its own homework.” 

Councillor Andy Ketchin, who was recently elected as Green councillor in Newtown and St Leonard’s ward, added:

“The people of Exeter expect better than this - they want Labour, as the ruling group, held to account. It was clear that one of the reasons residents elected me was because they want increased scrutiny of an administration that has been able to make decisions unchecked for too long. The appointment of Labour chairs to the Council’s scrutiny committees only serves to reinforce the concerns of residents.”

Adrian Fullam, Liberal Democrat councillor recently elected in St Thomas ward concluded:

"It's clear that Labour councillors are hoarding power and ignoring the fact that communities in Exeter are represented by councillors from a range of parties and none. They deserve proposals put forward by the Labour-led administration to be properly examined, not just rubber stamped. A failure to do so lets residents down.” 

Notes

[1] Meetings, agenda and minutes - Committee structure - Exeter City Council

[2] Scrutiny at Devon County Council - Democracy in Devon 

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