11 Mar 2011

Scrutiny last night: report rejected

Last night the Performance and Overview Scrutiny at Stroud District Council unanimously rejected a report for the first time in anyone's memory. It was a report looking at the process of procurement of an innovative renewable energy scheme. It appears the process was started last summer but then interrupted and restarted in the correct way - possibly leading to as much as 5 months delay.

Update 12/03/11: I've had a couple of comments saying it is not clear what this post is about - apols! As noted below this is absolutely not about whether or not renewables are good or whether or not this scheme should go ahead - all seemed agreed that it should - however it is about the report into how the procurement process went. Click the read more to see what I wrote earlier.

Photo: The lighting in the Council Chamber has now been replaced - the new lighting saves an astonishing £2074 per year!!!

This is not about the renewables scheme being not appropriate - most councillors publicly welcomed that - there is also no question that the Council did not legally do right in the process - and this was also not about condemning mistakes - yes it appears a mistake was made initially and then rectified. As one councillor noted strongly we can all make mistakes and indeed that can help us to learn.....however what was unsatisfactory to some was that the report did not clearly acknowledge the mistakes or statements that led to the report being requested and their was a lack of information regarding the timelines of events. On top of this one councillor noted information that appeared to contradict a line in the report and officers were not able to answer this at the meeting.

Last night there was indeed a renewed vigour to the Scrutiny committee (much needed) following some excellent training put on by the Council a couple of weeks ago. The Committee, as noted before in this blog has not functioned well - I personally think we still have lots to learn about what we ask for when we request a report. While I agree that the report was not wholly satisfactory in describing the process it is also possible that we could have made our request clearer? I wasn't involved in that part of this process, but have in the past experienced several occasions when reports or answers have been unsatisfactory - and as we know from the underspend last year we have been given info that was wrong. I hope that this rejection will lead to improvements that the committee want....The report will come back next month hopefully with the additions requested.

Having said all that the other report of the evening was on improvements made to housing - the Council has now been congratulated and held up as an example of good practice following the dire underspend and overspend. It really does seem that things are now very different - yes there is still a way to go but instead of acknowledging the report last night I proposed that we welcome the significant, real and much needed improvements and acknowledge the staff and tenants role in this. It was seconded and passed unanimously. Indeed well done to all.


Anonymous said...

I hope the councillors are not backing the hopeless proposal for an unproven 15kW auger hydro scheme here - this is grant funding incompetence at its very worst. If you want to guarantee a nuclear powered future in this country then this is the way to go about it.
There have been detailed proposals here for over 20 years (£350,000 lost in this time), still valid today, for regrading the site with lower mill (and owner agreement) for better flood control here and with 100kW output ... based on existing proven local 100% reliable technology for many decades - accompanied by the best river ecology locally ...
There has been a scandalous & continuing c*ck up here by the same clots that have allowed £1m to be spent locally since 2007 - making flood run-off worse.
It's what happens when 'self-interest' takes over in environmental matters ...

Philip Booth said...

The Scrutiny report was to look at the procurement process of a project with sheltered accommodation - not any of the specific schemes - the renewable energy project suggestions that went to Cabinet earlier this year do indeed include a hydro scheme, Dursley pool and more. See the paper at: http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:uGDKP-b_wqAJ:www.stroud.gov.uk/info/members/cms_documentation/Ag5_RenewableenergyCabrep_20Dec10_complete.pdf+renewables+cabinet&hl=en&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgtHz-HSwnVSND3o_rs7OKojCU0XEZ79Z9m8jWUt_gKst2P-EsAKpzcAgYJWQFALKhQX1H3FCaDnU0jITEdFYoDABkyff-ubvymkmlpBWdrd916BtvHZ50J56ENfn0vUQ8qQsCl&sig=AHIEtbSFg5Qh63b35w7V6mpBj9JCjYeftg&pli=1

This is just a first step - there will be more opportunities to look at specific schemes and ask not just about financial returns but also about energy, carbon etc

Greens had wanted to see more reserves put into generating better returns - ie instead of a 0.5% in a bank you could get much more by investing them in renewables. See: http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com/2011/02/stroud-budget-demonstrator-dragged-from.html