On Tuesday night I attended the Overview & Scrutiny, Performance and Corporate Services Committee meeting at Bootle Town Hall.
I have posted in the past on Labour's political games regarding their instance on having Labour chairs for these committees. To jog memories, Labour(who lead the council and never tire of telling us) have chosen to have Labour Councillors chairing committees that scrutinise the decisions made by Labour Cabinet Members.
On Tuesday night the Labour Cabinet Member for Older People & Health was in attendance. He was there to report on an item on the agenda titled "Welfare Reform in Sefton - A summary of the impact on people, services, housing and the economy 2013/14".
His report began in a reasonable manner as he outlined the work and the part played by officers. This was a lengthy report, totalling 80 pages, which rightly deserved committee time to discuss it's contents.
However, this report also provided an opportunity for him to have a general rant about the government and his opposition parties on Sefton Council. This was compounded by the Labour chair joining in with this political game.
In my opinion chairs of committees are simply that, "chairs". It is their responsibility to ensure that those present have an opportunity to speak whist, at the same time, ensuring that the meeting is ran in a civilised and timely manner. It should not be seen as an opportunity to play political games at every opportunity.
I revert back to my initial reminder about the imposition of Labour chairs on these committees. Tuesday night's meeting saw a Labour Cabinet Member being allowed to make political statements by a chair from his own party. These committees exist to ensure that decisions made are for the benefit of Sefton's residents, not to provide a platform for political gain.