People Scrutiny on Tuesday

More bizarre antics from UKIP Cllr Davies

The third item on the agenda of every scrutiny committee is Questions from Members of the Public. At People Scrutiny on Tuesday night we had a question from a Mr Davies. This was a most unusual question, not because of the question itself (about the placement of alcohol for sale in Southend’s supermarkets), but because Mr Davies turned out to be Cllr Davies (UKIP, Kursaal), Vice-chair of this committee.

Senior members that I spoke to thought it most irregular, and certainly could not recall another occasion when a councillor had asked a question as a member of the public.

Cllr Davies is not an ordinary member of the public, especially in council meetings. He does have a rather odd approach to being a councillor, but putting that aside – it was a strange strategy. Members of the public are not allowed follow-up questions, nor can they debate. As Vice-chair he has some sway over the running of this committee, and as a councillor can fully participate in debates. When he bothers to turn his contributions are often strange, and he gives the appearance of struggling to understand how the council is run.

The presentation on the Essex Primary Care Strategy was somewhat unsatisfactory. I am uncomfortable with the language. GP practises, we were told on more than one occasion, are individual businesses seeking a profit; this profit comes from the public purse, and I can imagine that on some occasions profit will have a higher priority than health care.

The presentation made no mention of health outcomes – it was all about organisation and the purchasing of care. I asked why health outcomes were omitted, and wondered why the CCG were going to do to address health inequalities across the borough.

Cllr Davies made mention of his extensive travels and how he visits healthcare establishments across the world.

A significant chunk of the meeting was carried out in Part II, that is because of the confidential nature of what was debated the public are excluded. Therefore I cannot report on the contents, but I can report on the heckling I received from some of the Conservative members present – they really ought to learn how to behave themselves.

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4 Responses to People Scrutiny on Tuesday

  1. Ian Gilbert says:

    GP practices have always been private businesses able to seek a profit. It was one of the compromises Nye Bevan needed to make to set up the NHS in the first place.

    Whether they are more or less ethical these days is an open question, their nature as contracted suppliers of NHS services remains fundamentally unchanged. Of course the current government’s desire to ‘put the GPs in charge’ through CCGs creates further complications.

  2. Most bizarre, I agree – particularly the walking down to the front to stand and ask it. Not sure what was wrong with his seat…. Although having researched it I do not believe it is the first time – I’m told the constitution does not permit councillor questions at scrutiny.

    Part two or not, you can feel free to report what you might call heckling and what I’d call the Conservative-led Government sorting out the mess of 13 years of Labour’s uncontrolled spending and the investment the previous Administration made into School improvement that is coming to fruition with our primary schools… and hopefully will elsewhere soon…
    Perhaps you should be the portfolio holder – we could debate more directly then!

  3. If the constitution does not permit then why was he allowed to do it?

    My memory of the heckling was that it arose from my pointing out the fact that it was the Conservative Government’s austerity measures that were the cause of the cuts to the area we were discussing. One of your members (Cllr Folkard from Chalkwell) then decided to shout “coalition” repeatedly. Whilst it might have been his most useful contribution of the evening, it does leave one wondering whether he realises that the coalition is led by the Conservatives.

    We have a perfectly good portfolio holder in the guise of the truly wonderful Cllr Anne Jones already – I see no reason to change that.

  4. Rob Brown says:

    From what I hear (and to coin a phrase from my students) Cllr Jones ‘slews you’ in the chamber regularly James. Julian would make a great portfolio holder too, perhaps he can replace Longley in 2015 once your coalition parties lose further seats in Southend.

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