The meeting started off cordially enough with the Chair Cllr Patricia Glasman welcoming people to a special meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
She asked for declarations of interest. Cllr Denise Roberts said she was a member of the Members’ Working Party and wanted clarification on whether it was an interest. In Bill Norman’s view it wasn’t an interest she needed to declare.
The Chair asked for any party whipping arrangements, none were declared. She said she had something to read and circulated a motion. A Conservative councillor asked for a ten minute recess so after three minutes the meeting was adjourned.
After the adjournment the Chair asked if she wanted them to read out her motion. They did, so she read it out in full.
Cllr Cherry Povall, spokesperson for the Conservative Party said her first point was that they’d only just been handed the Improvement Plan and that it was designed to bypass scrutiny.
The Chair pointed out that the Action Plan was published on the intranet on the 2nd February and had been available since then.
Cllr Simon Mountney said, “It’s taken four years almost to get to this point and members of the public are currently asking for us to name and shame. Well to be honest I think it’s even more than that. I think it’s name and hold to account. If people prove under that process to have something to answer, then in fact there might even be prosecutions to follow, as I understand the police are involved in this.
So how do you expect to sweep this under the carpet whilst there is a police investigation into this issue is beyond me? This is one of the most serious matters this Council…”
The Chair interrupted and denied that they were trying to sweep it under the carpet.
Cllr Simon Mountney said “Well I think by this statement that you’ve issued just now, what you’re looking to do is move on. Well I’m not ready to move on and I don’t think my colleagues are ready to move on. We need to know who is responsible for this and at this point in time we don’t! We haven’t even had a non redacted version of the report. How can you expect this Council to move on when we don’t know who was responsible for one of most serious issues to happen in this Council for many years?
It’s just beyond me how you have the audacity to issue this kind of report saying let’s move on. We don’t have the answers yet! How can we possibly move on? The report talks about people turning up with baseball bats and you want us to move on? It’s just absolutely beyond me, I don’t understand how your party and you as an individual can continue with this ridiculous issue that it’s going to go away.
This is not going to go away and I’m going to make sure it doesn’t go away till I get the answers that I’ve been seeking for four years. Now we’re getting to a point perhaps where the answers will start to come out, because it will go to a public investigation of some sort. It will. So don’t, let’s not try and sweep it under the carpet because that’s what you’re trying to do.”
The Chair, Cllr Patricia Glasman said “I’m not trying to sweep anything under the carpet. Nobody is and I’m…”
Cllr Simon Mountney said “You are trying to sweep it under the carpet by saying let’s move on!”
The Chair said, “I would be very grateful if nobody here tonight reduces this to the level of personal abuse. With regards to the issue of naming names, I’d be grateful if the Director of Law could answer that.”
Cllr Simon Mountney asked who had put together the statement, whether it was the Chair and if it wasn’t he’d like to know who?
Bill Norman, Director of Law, HR & Asset Management said, “Following a previous meeting of this committee I was informed there was a request from a number of Members to seek an unredacted copy of the Anna Klonowski report. Errm when we received the request for an unredacted version…”