Scru­tiny team should look at Empty Homes is­sue

Rossendale Free Press - - The Rossendale Scribbler -

ROSSENDALE Coun­cil has an overview and scru­tiny com­mit­tee.

Its job is to scru­ti­nise the de­ci­sions made by the coun­cil.

It met on Oc­to­ber 15, and dis­cussed things like the way the plan­ning sys­tem works in the area and home­less­ness in the bor­ough and sug­gested a fu­ture topic might be child poverty.

It also wants to look at whether the po­lice’s non-emer­gency 101 ser­vice was work­ing, but iron­i­cally, the 101 ser­vice hadn’t replied to them when the meet­ing took place.

It seems stag­ger­ing that such a com­mit­tee re­mains deaf to the on­go­ing Empty Homes Scan­dal, which has seem­ingly cost the coun­cil £5 mil­lion.

Yet again, lo­cal Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors sug­gest the on­go­ing scan­dal should prompt coun­cil leader Alyson Barnes to con­sider her po­si­tion.

But what would be the point of that, when we still don’t know all the facts?

De­spite two ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and a file be­ing handed over to the po­lice a long time ago (and ap­par­ently with at least an­other 18 months of in­ves­ti­ga­tions to go) as tax­pay­ers we still have no idea what went on, and why it can’t hap­pen again.

There’s a drip, drip, drip of in­for­ma­tion from the coun­cil, which sim­ply isn’t good enough.

The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is a use­ful thing to hide be­hind when not want­ing to talk about a project which has se­ri­ously dented the fi­nances of an al­ready cash-strapped coun­cil, but it shouldn’t sti­fle de­bate en­tirely.

If ever there was an is­sue meant for an overview and scru­tiny com­mit­tee, it’s this one.

And yet the overview and scru­tiny com­mit­tee seems blind to it.

Get­ting the Empty Homes Scan­dal on to the agenda would be a far more pro­duc­tive use of time than just sug­gest­ing peo­ple should re­sign.

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