A Council official has nullified the controversial decision taken by Green Councillor who agreed to spend over £1 million bringing 8 Council houses up to ENerPhit standard and around 30 homes up to EPC ‘C’. click for report.
Cllr Craghill turned down an alternative which would have seen 66 properties benefit from a similar investment. Overall this scheme would have produced greater CO2 savings, and lower energy bills, for many more tenants. It was better value for money and had a bigger impact on the environment.
Not surprisingly the seemingly perverse decision was due to be “called in” for further explanation. Tory, Independent and Labour Councillors backed the call in. Privately some LibDem Councillors are understood to have expressed similar concerns.
Now a Council official has decided to bin the decision.
The Councils – increasingly controversial – “monitoring officer”, Janie Berry, says that
” I have concerns in relation to the legal, finance and equalities implications cited within the original report, in that I do not believe they provided Cllr Craghill with the sufficient details she required to assist her in making a proper fully informed decision”.
“In my capacity as the Monitoring Officer I have revoked the original decision made by Cllr Craghill and have instructed the Housing Department to re-draft a report in respect of this issue and re-present a revised report to a future meeting of the Executive Member Decision Session. Members will still be able to call-in any future report in respect of the Energy Accelerator”.
Now whatever you may think of the decision – and it was a strange one – officers overruling Councillors, without democratic endorsement, sets a dangerous precedent. It is as close to a local coup as you are likely to witness.
Reports normally go through a series of checks before being made public. These checks certainly are aimed at ensuring proposals are affordable, legal and fair.
Something has gone seriously wrong in this case. Taxpayers will want to know how this could happen.
The delegation scheme – where individuals can spend very large sums of money – has always been controversial. The blunder will add weight to those advocating a return to all party committee decision making.
In the meantime, the controlling coalition needs to find some internal mechanism where extreme or perverse proposals can be moderated before they become public.
If such a process were in place then some recent transport decisions might also have never seen the light of day.