Havering’s cabinet members make policies for the borough. This requires expertise, which they don’t have. Therefore they need training. Training would encourage flexibility where diversity of views are welcomed as an opportunity, rather than seen as a threat. The cabinet’s decision-making shows they don’t understand the necessity of consultation, scrutiny and defending policies against legitimate challenges. A good example is the car parking charges fiasco.
The Romford Recorder* reports Osman Dervish’s 2019 car parking charges decision as one made without consultation with Havering’s high streets traders, or an economic impact study. This decision wasn’t scrutinised by Ray Best’s Town and Communities Overview and Scrutiny committee. The decision is abysmal because Osman made no effort to predict the economic outcome.
Osman’s allowance of £28,000 is reasonable** if, and only if, he’s doing the job. But he isn’t because he doesn’t understand what the job is. He’s an example of Havering’s ‘Amateur Hour’. No cabinet member has ever discussed policies at an Overview and Scrutiny committee. The cabinet gets away with shoddy decision-making because Conservative councillors questioning them are labelled disloyal, which is punishable by loss of allowances.
Until cabinet members are trained, decision-making opportunities will be lost. Both they and the Chairs of Overview and Scrutiny committees need to work harder to improve their expertise in these crucial roles.
* 10th January 2020
** Osman’s a part-time councillor, he also has a councillor allowance of £11,000