Council's decision making comes under fire

A SENIOR council officer has criticised North Herts District Council s decision making process as being old-fashioned, inflexible and vague. Brendan Sullivan, the council s scrutiny officer made the complaints in a report to Tuesday night s meeting of NH

A SENIOR council officer has criticised North Herts District Council's decision making process as being old-fashioned, inflexible and vague.

Brendan Sullivan, the council's scrutiny officer made the complaints in a report to Tuesday night's meeting of NHDC's scrutiny committee in which he examined the outcomes of so-called 'task and finish' groups.

These groups, made up of councillors from across the parties, are charged with making recommendations on council policies. But Mr Sullivan said it was difficult to see whether the outcomes of these reviews, which can take up to nine months, made any real difference.

"The majority of recommendations have been accepted by cabinet, albeit some with caveats," he said. "The question arises as to whether acceptance leads to effective action. On closer examination it can sometimes be difficult to see what has changed as a result of recommendations being made."


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In a long list of problems he blamed the drawn out nature of the process, the lack of engagement with officers and portfolio holders, misunderstandings, lack of planning, vague explanations, and old fashioned and inflexible working practices.

Committee members responded at the meeting by suggesting that they be given more narrowly defined objectives and smaller, more manageable groups, while retaining the function to challenge existing policy.

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Mr Sullivan said a revised paper will be presented at the next committee meeting to "retain momentum and focus".

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