HBC Scrutiny – A fresh start for 2022/23

The first outing for the new Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 24th August was encouraging and we’re looking forward to continuing coverage of these important meetings as the new chair, Cllr. David Keast, takes the workplan forward over the coming year.

It’s well worth listening to the whole of this short meeting as it provides a good introduction to the real work done behind the scenes by your elected councillors. It’ll only take twenty minutes of your time so put on a brew and sit back.

The main agenda item was approval for the Overview and Scrutiny Workplan 2022/23, which you can read in a separate browser tab by clicking that link while you’re watching the meeting.

There’s much to keep you entertained over the twenty minutes and it’s worth listening and watching closely since the comments made and the body language shown contain a few gems.

To highlight just one, listen for the chair’s almost Freudian slip when asked about Southern Water by the former council leader. If you can’t wait, go straight here to listen. (Was Cllr. Keast really about to say ‘a confrontation date?!)

It was a solid start for the new chair who’d had a high bar set by the outgoing chair, Cllr. Lloyd. As we’ve observed in the past, Cllr. Lloyd’s background as a classroom teacher stood her in good stead as the Overview and Scrutiny Committee chair. With Cllr. Munday in place alongside him as the committee Vice Chair, Cllr. Keast has an experienced headteacher on his left hand side. All in all, this looks like a promising and experienced leadership team. (We have to say though, that the ‘player of the match’ award on the night went to HBC staffer, the ever patient Democratic Services Officer, Mark Gregory.)

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee (O&S) and the Planning Committee both perform critically important functions for HBC and we’ll continue to cover these meetings when specific public interest matters are on the agendas. It looks like O&S is well set for the next year and after Tuesday’s ‘Land at Palk Road’ Development Consultation Forum, we now look to the Planning Committee to step up and challenge developers, HBC Planning Services and HCC Highways much more effectively where unsound decisions are being made.