Brent Council kills scrutiny committees and public debates in town hall meetings

Brent Council have axed public debates

Brent Council have axed public debates - Credit: Archant

Town hall bosses have given the green light to controversial measures which will see the cull of overview and scrutiny committees and a ban on debates on key issues in the borough.

Cllr Muhammed Butt is the leader of Brent Council (Pic credit: Myron Jobson)

Cllr Muhammed Butt is the leader of Brent Council (Pic credit: Myron Jobson) - Credit: Archant

But, Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, performed a dramatic U-turn on proposals which requires councillors to submit questions seven days in advance -whilst supplementary questions would be banned.

He hast agreed to review the plans with leader of the opposition, Tory Cllr Suresh Kangasa, of the Kenton ward, following his fierce criticism, claiming the notice period could even be revised down to a 24 hour or two day notice.

He said: “This is not about me pushing or the council pushing items through. As a council, we need to work together for our community. He has a voice which will be heard.”

A sea of hands were raised from the Labour benches as councillors voted through the disputed plans, which marks the end of the 45 minute slot dedicated to discussions on issues affecting the borough.

Under the new proposals, three residents will be able to speak for a maximum of five minutes during a dedicated section in each council meeting.

Michael Calderbank, co-editor of a political magazine and member of Brent Fightback, previously labelled plans to axe debates on key issue as “control freakery.”

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What’s more, council chiefs have also given the go-ahead to a merger of the six existing committees, including an ad hoc call in committee, into one sole group –in direct violation against government advice.

Opposing the plans, Tory councillor, John Warren, who represents the Brondesbury Park, labelled the measures akin to something drawn up in the Kremlin.

He said: “There are lots of key issues, why don’t they want to talk about it?

“They say a single committee would have a greater impact. That is rubbish. We want more scrutiny, not less scrutiny.”

Cllr Butt said, “New proposals to allow the public to speak in council meetings for the first time ever is aimed at bettering how the community engages with the council and allows residents to hold us into account.”

Commenting on the new scrutiny committee, he continued: “This new body would be more effective because it would be able to convene as and when requires, instead of waiting every three months.

“The chair of the new committee will work with members of the public, allowing them to have a greater influence on how the council is run.”