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Council needs ‘greater scrutiny’, insists veteran Rutherglen representative

South Lanarkshire Council should be scrutinized more, a councillor has claimed.

Rutherglen South councillor Robert Brown hit out after being frustrated at the lack of debate on various recent issues.

The Liberal Democrat is calling for a question time process to be implemented at the local authority, which would increase the amount of questions and debate that could be raised in meetings.

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Councillor Brown made his remarks after querying the amount of play parks in the Rutherglen and Cambuslang area, with stats showing just 17 of the council’s 233 facilities were in the Royal Burgh.

He also raised a question about breakfast clubs throughout the region.

However, the council’s guidelines state that although question can be asked on 10 clear days’ notice via rule 18a, there cannot be any debate or further questioning on the reply to that question.

Councillor Brown told Lanarkshire Live: “The two questions were on important and relevant issues of the council’s responsibilities, yet councillors were not permitted by the provost to ask further questions on them. It wasn’t his fault as he is bound by the council’s Standing Orders.

Brown
Rutherglen South Liberal Democrat Councillor, Robert Brown.

“As far as I am aware, it is the first time the procedure has been used in the whole history of the council, so it is a pretty pointless rule if the council can go 25 years without it being used.

“I deliberately used the Rule 18a procedure to demonstrate publicly how useless it is and to help make the case for change. It will now be discussed at the Standards and Procedures Forum which is preparing arrangements for the new council to be elected in May.

“There will need to be a change of heart by the SNP administration and the other party groups though as they were against a Question Time procedure when I raised it before.”

He added: ” Other councils set aside perhaps half an hour during full council meetings for a proper Question Time – it is an obvious and desirable part of holding the administration to account in any democratic body.

“In Highland Region there is even a Public Question Time where members of the public can ask questions. It is time to open up the council to greater public scrutiny on its activities.”

However, council chiefs confirmed that any change would not be looked at until next May.

Executive director of finance and corporate resources, Paul Manning, said: “The council is currently reviewing all of our procedural documents as part of our preparations for the next council following next May’s local government elections.

“Councillor Brown’s suggestions, and others received as part of the process, will be taken into account as part of that review.

“Following the elections, the procedural documents that result from the review will be presented for elected members for their consideration at the first statutory meeting of the new Council in May 2022.”

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