Havering’s Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committees: A Weakness

[Sub-committees should develop] mechanisms for addressing cross-cutting issues and for preventing duplication of work. Where matters fall within the remit of more than one O&S sub-committee, to determine which of them will assume responsibility or set up a joint ad-hoc body;* para 2:4

There’s confusion amongst Havering’s Overview and Scrutiny committees. Where does this come from? Is it Damian White’s desire to have additional committees so he can pay allowances to Conservative colleagues? Or, maybe a lack of critical thought?

The paradigm example of confusion is the Crime and Disorder and the Children and Learning committees. Earlier this year, 2019, there was a fatal stabbing in Harold Hill. Jodie Chesney, was murdered in a gratuitous act of violence.** Havering’s weak Overview and Scrutiny committee understanding of their responsibilities was revealed.

On the 14th February 2019, Children and Learning committee received a report on knife crime.*** This report wasn’t shared with the Crime and Disorder committee. Viddy Persaud, the cabinet member, wasn’t brought to committee to explain Havering’s position on this vital issue. Neither Judith Holt or Bob Perry, the relevant chairs, understood their responsibilities though they are crystal clear,

sub-committees consider issues by receiving information from, and questioning, Cabinet Members, officers and external partners to develop an understanding of proposals, policy and practices (my emphasis)****

Was Bob Perry’s chair of Crime a douceur keeping Damian’s administration afloat? Committee secretaries should run training programmes explaining to chairs their responsibilities. Not a single chair has asked for a formal committee meeting with a cabinet member in 18 months of this administration. These meeting should be bi-annual at the least. Damian White hasn’t been in front of the Board on a single occasion. This is a massive democratic deficit.

* http://democracy.havering.gov.uk/documents/s13153/Report%20-%20Terms%20of%20Reference.pdf
** https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-47521329
*** http://democracy.havering.gov.uk/documents/g5962/Agenda%20frontsheet%2014th-Feb-2019%2019.00%20Children%20Learning%20Overview%20Scrutiny%20Sub-Committee.pdf?T=0 Knife Crime and Children pp33-124 The Havering strategy was due to go to cabinet in March 2019.
**** http://democracy.havering.gov.uk/documents/g5874/Agenda%20frontsheet%2028th-Feb-2019%2019.00%20Crime%20Disorder%20Sub-%20Committee.pdf?T=0

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