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Jan 07 2013

Scandal-Hit Labour Plan to Scrap Standards Regime

cllr_paul_osbornHarrow Council’s troubled Labour administration, which has had two Councillors arrested, one of whom was found guilty of fraud, plans to stop investigating complaints from residents, Council staff or any member of the public about Councillor conduct or behaviour. The proposal in the draft budget has been attacked by the opposition Conservative Group.

Cllr. Paul Osborn [pictured left], who is both Shadow Transformation, Performance and Communication Portfolio Holder and Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee, said: “This minor but potentially significant item is hidden way [pictured below] in the depths of the cut-riddled budget Labour have concocted. At first glance it’s not entirely clear what Labour are proposing by having a ‘scaled back councillor investigation process’, but the very thin background papers do at least add that ‘the new Standards arrangements brought in after the Localism Act are not statutory and could be withdrawn’. Incredibly, they also reveal that Labour’s plans will result in complaints ‘being dealt with by Group Leader[s] in consultation with Independent Person[s].’ Far from being open and transparent; this is a way to make the whole process even more secretive and open to abuse.”

councilor_complaint_savingsCllr. Osborn continued: “I think this would be an appalling decision. We need to make the Standards regime more cost-effective but this should be done without abolishing it or crippling its effectiveness. It also sends out completely the wrong message as politicians; it removes one of the key checks residents have against poor councillor behaviour.”

Cllr. Osborn concluded: “With Labour’s Cllr. David Gawn recently handed 10-week sentences after admitting to fraud and quite appallingly refusing to resign, and with another Labour councillor still helping police with their investigations into another very serious matter; I hardly think this is the best time for Labour to stop the scrutiny of councillor conduct.”

Source(s):

2013-14 Budget Details:

http://www2.harrow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=249&MId=61074

Savings on p.14 of PDF:

http://www2.harrow.gov.uk/documents/s102483/MTFS%20Appendices.pdf

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