Monday, 12 November 2018

Scrutiny and accountability > local government and local enterprise partnerships

There is a push going on for more accountability in local government:
Futures Forum: District Councils must be 'fully represented' on Local Enterprise Partnerships

And for more financial scrutiny: 

PAC chair seeking ways to beef up local government spending scrutiny

Dominic Brady
17 Oct 18

The Public Accounts Committee chair has been speaking “behind the scenes to persuade various players” to enhance the scrutiny of local government spending. 

Meg Hillier [pictured right] has told PF how local government is spending money needs to be more “transparent” for an increasingly “savvy” British public.

“I think the British public are much more savvy about things - they don’t trust the authority to spend things well,” she said to PF.

Since the Audit Commission was formally dissolved in 2015 “there isn’t the same level of transparency locally”, Hillier said.

Local authority finances “used to be well demonstrated”, she said, “so I think [making them more transparent again] is just something that we need to keep pushing on.”

PAC chair seeking ways to beef up local government spending scrutiny | Public Finance

Which could also have an effect on LEPs:
Finally a way to publicly scrutinise Local Enterprise Partnerships and other quangos? | East Devon Watch

As a recent report from the Institute of Government suggests: 

Strong accountability provides the foundation of a healthy democracy. It ensures a relationship between the public and those in government who have power to shape their lives. People expect performance to be rewarded if good or penalised if poor, and the demonstration that this happens matters for their trust in government. But the rules of accountability also need to enable those in government to learn from failure.

Report: Accountability in Modern Government: recommendations for change | East Devon Watch

But, again, as the East Devon Watch blog suggests, we don't seem to be getting very far:
Local Enterprise Partnership “scrutiny” committee – an oxymoron | East Devon Watch

With a full report from the District Cllr for Seaton: 

An inauspicious start for new Scrutiny Committee for the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership


Who would have known? The previously unaccountable quango, the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership, which dispenses public money but whose board is made up mainly of businessmen, now has a scrutiny committee all of its own, recently established in some haste to meet newly imposed legal requirements. The first meeting took place five days ago, but little seems to have happened, judging from the minutes. There is currently no opportunity for public participation and no webcast.

The committee will have 17 members, with 13 Tories (11 confirmed – two representatives of Conservative-controlled district councils to be named), 3 Labour members (2 from Plymouth and 1 from Devon) and 1 Lib Dem from Somerset. Thus Independent and Green members have been entirely excluded, while there is only minimal opposition representation. The ruling Tories on the two county councils have used their majorities – obtained with less than 50 per cent of the votes in the 2017 election – to collar three quarters of the county seats, in addition to all those from the districts they control.

It’s worth mentioning that the Heart of the South West (geographic Devon and Somerset – but few local residents will recognise it under its marketing name) also has a Joint Committee of the Councils, with 19 members even more unevenly distributed by party (16 Tories, 2 Labour, 1 Lib Dem, no Independents or Greens).

Will all this bureaucracy give a new steer to the LEP, notorious so far for its bias towards the Hinckley new power station (it is even funding a hotel for officials of the foreign companies behind the project to stay in), its neglect of coastal and rural areas, and its fantastical plans for the South West to overtake London in productivity?

An inauspicious start for new Scrutiny Committee for the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership « SEATON & COLYTON matters

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