Havering councillors reject motion to provide quarterly budget monitoring reports

COUNCILLORS threw out a motion to open up their books to provide quarterly budget monitoring reports.

At the full council meeting on Thursday February 2, the committee voted against a motion by the Residents’ Group which would see officers controlling expenditure against budget allocations and reporting them to the cabinet on a regular basis.

Cllr Eric Munday (Con, Squirrels Heath) argued that it would cause unnecessary beaucracy and just lead to more work for officers.

He said: “This is the kind of things that we are trying to move away from if members of the opposition want to see things all they would have to do is to look at them, but this would cause unnecessary beaucracy ad would be a waste of time.”

The motion also included the reports being presented to each Overview and Scrutiny Committee for action.

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Leader of the Residents’ Association, Cllr Clarence Barrett, argued that his reason behind the motion was to create a greater degree of transparency and accountability.

He said: “The constitution of the council includes a passage which sets out the ten general principles of public life. “Number nine is stewardship - which says that members should ensure their authorities use their resources prudently and in accordance with the law.

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“I think that aspiration could be further enhanced by adopting a more visible regime of financial monitoring in the member domain that centres on the principles of transparency, accountability and value for money.”

After hearing the debate Leader of the Labour Party, Keith Darvill (Lab, Heaton) welcomed it but thought that it would be time consuming to read through all the reports.

He said: “Anyone that has time on their hands can look through the reports but many of us have full time jobs and we work in the evenings and we have party reports and we are governors at local schools.”

But Cllr Ron Ower (RA,Upminster) argued that there was a need for a greater transparency and it was something that happened in businesses often.

He said: “The council is not a business but it should be run in a business like way and most companies have managed accounts.

“With my last company I got regualar accounts and there will be many occasions when we will need to make vital decisions that will have a huge impact on the lives of residents and it is essential that we have regular financial updates.”

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