HIGHLIGHTS of Cheshire West and Chester Shadow Council’s scrutiny committee can be viewed on www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.
The scrutiny committee has the responsibility for challenging and questioning the actions and policies of the shadow authority prior to the new council assuming its full powers on April 1, 2009.
The committee, under the chairmanship of Cllr Andrew Dawson, decided to hold its first scrutiny meeting involving members of the council’s executive away from council buildings and to video record it to allow as many people as possible to view the proceedings.
Cllr Dawson said: “To an outsider the scrutiny hearing was a cross between Prime Minister’s Questions and Question Time with both councillors and the public being able to question the Leader of the Council, Cllr Mike Jones, Cllr Arthur Harada, Education and Children Portfolio Holder, and Cllr Herbert Manley, Prosperity Portfolio Holder.”
In this groundbreaking initiative the public questioning of the executive and its policies and direction can be viewed as video highlights, or the entire questioning session listened to as an audio podcast.
Committee chairman Cllr Andrew Dawson said: “I am delighted that we have taken this exciting step to make the democratic process accessible to residents.
“It was important to me that the scrutiny committee came out into the community. We chose Ellesmere Port to host the first question time session as we knew the community was concerned about the changes under consideration for local schools and we wanted the public, as well as the councillors to be able to voice their concerns and ask any questions they had.
“This is the first time any local authority in this area has undertaken such a project and I hope it demonstrates our overriding commitment to make the business of Cheshire West and Chester Council as transparent and as close to its communities and residents as possible.
“I would be very interested to hear your views on this initiative and whether it is a good idea to make the contents of the scrutiny meetings public in this way.”
The next question time style scrutiny committee meeting is planned for Northwich on November 3 (subject to confirmation).