Fenland Council leader apologises after scrutiny committee abandoned after 'miscommunication': opposition councillors 'shocked'
PUBLISHED: 12:38 21 July 2019
Council leader Chris Boden apologised today after a scrutiny committee was abandoned after 30 minutes because neither he nor his deputy were present.
He blamed a "miscommunication" and said he took "full responsibility" for the mix-up that led to criticism from opposition councillors on Fenland Council.
Independent group leader Cllr Michelle Tanfield, the independent group spokesperson, said: "The overview and scrutiny committee on Monday was abandoned after 30 minutes because the two portfolio holders (both the leader Chris Boden and his deputy Jan French) whose issue was to be examined failed to attend."
She said: "By delaying the business the future of the Council Tax Support Scheme is at risk and the cost of bringing both staff and members together for the meeting has been wasted.
"The Fenland independent members were in attendance and are shocked that such an important meeting was not attended by the leader or his deputy."
Cllr Boden said: "I very much regret that there was no Cabinet representative at the overview and scrutiny panel meeting which was due to consider the details to be presented later this year to a full council meeting for Fenland's Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS) for 2020-21.
"I apologise both to the members and to the officers involved in scrutiny for that failure and I have already apologised, in person, to the chairman of the panel, Cllr Alex Miscandlon."
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Cllr Boden said he was chairing a meeting in Huntingdon that afternoon on behalf of the Combined Authority so had been unable to attend the panel meeting at Fenland Hall.
"Because of a miscommunication, for which I take full responsibility, that fact was not conveyed to the meeting and no other member of the Cabinet attended in my place.
"In light of that failure, I've asked for a change of process to be instituted so that no such misunderstanding will occur in future."
Cllr Boden said he looked forward to further consideration of the council tax support scheme both at Cabinet and at the next meeting of the overview and scrutiny panel.
Ironically last year the same scrutiny panel was chaired by Cllr Boden and it was his suggestion that discussion of the council tax support scheme be heard earlier in the year than had become the norm.
However he insisted that public debate and scrutiny of the issues it raises would not be affected by the delay.
"Once again, my apologies for the problems my miscommunication caused on Monday," he added.