This should make residents nervous
Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) is now desperate to appoint its fifth Executive Member for Finance in 19 months.
Seven weeks ago, the Executive Member resigned his post. Six weeks ago, the Conservative Leader of the Council (who is currently doubling up as the Executive Member for Finance) promised to announce a replacement within two weeks, but as of 27th October nothing has been announced.
It seems the Leader has run out of Conservative backbenchers prepared to stick their neck out for this one.
If this makes residents nervous, it should, since WBC is now heading for a £600m debt (£9,500 per household) and there are an increasing number of questions that need to be answered.
The current Executive Member system allows for the Conservative backbenchers to relax as they can simply rely upon the handful of Conservative Executive Members.
This means there are too few eyes, at too late a stage, involved in developing policies resulting in many of these being of poor quality and effect. Is it any wonder few ruling party backbenchers are willing to step up with this responsibility laid on them?
There is a different way to the Executive system (which is persistently supported by many Conservative Members), one that involves all Borough Councillors having eyes on developing policies from inception and which would provide a better service for residents.
This also applies to developing the annual budget where much greater openness is needed, rather than the obsessive secrecy approach adopted by the Conservative ruling party. The next budget planning round is about to commence, will they adopt a different approach? Cllr Ian Pi ock Liberal Democrat councillor for Finchampstead South, Wokingham Borough Council