If this committee was a sick animal the kindest thing to do would be to put it out of its misery. Havering’s Overview and Scrutiny chairs receive lucrative rewards. In Sally Miller’s case it’s for defecting from the Residents’ Association. She’s hopelessly out of her depth.
“Ah!” you might say, “This fellow is a political opponent and is cruel, heartless and unfair.”
An unexpected consequence of the horrors of Covid-19 has been a strengthening of democracy in Havering. How so? The committee has a webcast. This means you can watch the proceedings and ‘enjoy’ the sight of councillors floundering as they try to make sense of complex issues. I viewed the entire meeting, hoping there’d be evidence that councillors understood the concept ‘scrutiny’. Or, at least, show signs that they’d read officers’ reports. Alas and alack, that hope died a horrible death.
‘Probing’ Questions Not Asked
The police spokesman was proud of the ‘Stop and Search’ of 279 people. Who were these people? Was ‘Stop and Search’ targeted? What gender were those who were stopped? What age? Where? Why? What race? Perhaps the police spokesman could have been asked more about the actuality of ‘Stop and Search’ and demand a report which was more analytical.
This is the report detail,
Stop and Search
“As a unit the Havering Joint Task Force currently stops and searches more people and vehicles than any other in Havering. Since its formation, the Task Force has conducted 279 stop and searches, accounting for 20% of the boroughs total number of 1,365 stop and searches.”*
This ‘Virtual’ meeting had half the councillors missing, which is surprising as the meeting was streamed from living rooms. The committee is important and deserved to be treated seriously by councillors discussing major issues associated with public safety. A dispiriting meeting demonstrated none of the councillors are up to the job**. Comments were trivial, inconsequential and immature. The people of Havering deserve better.
** The substitute member actually made a greater and more positive contribution than the three actual members put together.
Relevant blogs from the archive
On the use of patronage in appointing councillors to posts of Special responsibility see https://havering.blog/2020/02/29/haverings-conservatives-defy-the-governments-guidance-on-overview-and-scrutiny-committees/
On the government’s view of how Overview and Scrutiny committees should operate see https://havering.blog/2020/01/11/haverings-overview-and-scrutiny-chairs-damian-whites-cronies-cash-in/
On the use of Havering’s council tax to buy-in five police officers see https://havering.blog/2019/05/19/damian-white-and-viddy-persauds-rent-a-cop-scheme/