Tonight I was invited to give my views in relation to how Ealing Council conducts itself when the administration puts forwards its proposals and plans.
Normally opposition political parties attend Cabinet meetings and are allowed to give their opinions on these plans. I do this as Leader of the Liberal Democrat party and either state my party's viewpoints or ask questions to get information to help determine whether a plan is one that will help the residents of Ealing.
If my party or the other opposition party disagree with the Labour administration (perhaps some of their cuts which affect the elderly or vulnerable residents) then we can "call in" a decision. This means at a separate meeting the item will be discussed by a committee who have councillors from all political parties.
Sometimes that committee agrees that the original decision was correct; in about 20% of cases the original decision was thought to be either wrong or needs amending.
In my statement I made a suggestion that opposition political parties should be able to put down amendments at the Cabinet meetings so that some of the details can be improved. Often it is the details that make a report acceptable.
Another idea was raised to suggest the the Cabinet committee (which is made up completely 100% of Labour councillors!) should be converted into a debating body - than the current rubber stamping exercise which it is.
After an hour or more of discussion it was agreed that the Chair of the scrutiny panel would look at this issue and report back to the committee at its next meeting. Sadly this is a less than proactive measure. I think there is scope to make improvements so that members of the public can get the chance to overturn bad or poorly thought out decisions. We have to wait it seems to get movement on this one.