About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

South Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel - of 29th October 2014, by Nigel Slack.

The Police & Crime Panel is supposed to be the oversight and scrutiny body for the Police & Crime Commissioner. During what is essentially a hiatus between the resignation of Shaun Wright and the election of the new permanent PCC on 30th October there is not a lot of business to be undertaken so the meeting was short and to the point.

Their was a welcome from Cllr Harry Harpham (Labour, Chair) and an introduction of a new member to replace Cllr Vines (UKIP), who resigned after the last meeting. (The no-confidence deliberations on Shaun Wright.) The new member is Cllr Martyn Parker, (UKIP) representing Rotherham MBC. The chair then proposed the minutes show an expression of condolences to Mayor Ros Jones (Labour) of Doncaster MBC for the bereavement in her family that meant she was not in attendance that day.

The agenda then came on to Public Questions. I was the only member of the public in attendance that day but there were several other written questions to be put to the panel. Cllr Harpham commented that the questions were all on a similar theme, the problems of the last few weeks, the lack of powers of the PCP and the concerns for the future. He then proposed to the meeting that they make the next meeting a one item agenda to discuss these matters in an open forum and try to get as many members of the public involved as possible. He also suggested that as such they hold over the questions at this meeting to the future meeting for consideration then.

Cllr Harpham asked me if I was content to do that, I agreed, and the meeting assented to his proposal concerning the next meeting. Some of the other questions were from members of Neighbourhood Watch and Sheffield for Democracy who were known to me and he asked that I ask them to try to attend that meeting. He would also ask the support officers to contact all the questioners with the same request.

There were only two more short items on the agenda, to agree the last meeting minutes and to offer the panels recommendation on the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer for the PCC's office. The minutes were approved with some matters arising comments from Cllr Parker as a new member not in post at the last meeting. The panel accepted the appointment of the new CFO after a short discussion as to whether it should be held over until the new PCC was elected.

The meeting closed at this point with a brief comment from Cllr Harpham as a reminder of the next meetings purpose, the date of which will be 19th November 2014, at 1.00pm Rotherham Town Hall. He also commented at this point that the next meeting and indeed all future meetings of the PCP would be webcast live. The members then dispersed. Anyone in South Yorkshire who is interested in the working of the PCP can attend, I would encourage them to be there.

The announcement of the webcasting came a bit out off left field so I approached the support Officers to ask when that decision had been made. The response was, “just now”, it seems to have been a spur of the moment decision by the Chair, aware perhaps of the sensitivities of the subject at the next meeting. This should lead to an interesting conversation at Full Council next week, with Sheffield City Council still resisting the introduction of this tool for transparency.

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