Council committee make-up unfair?

Councillor Bob Spink.
Councillor Bob Spink.

An amendment by Councillor Bob Spink to the make up of new committees was deemed incompetent by the Provost at a meeting of the full council.

The item on the agenda at the recent meeting was to approve the population of the new committees formed under the radical changes being made over the last months to the administration of the council. These come into effect in January.

In effect the new standing committees will be structured around the format of seven SNP members and eight non-SNP to each, and the meeting informed members on which committees they would serve.

The overall council make-up is 14 SNP and 15 non-SNP members with an SNP administration.

Councillor Spink challenged the committee make-up in an amendment on the grounds that it was unfair and did not reflect equitably the workload allocated to the elected members.

He stated: “At one time elected members’ attendance at meetings of council standing committees was published along with remuneration tables. Attendance figures are no longer given but nevertheless I feel the public have a right to be aware of who does what and the level of their involvement on council committee, making decisions in other words.

“My amendment to defer the matter to allow a closer look at the committee structure was ruled incompetent by the provost therefore no debate was allowed and the motion was carried as proposed in the agenda.

“As a result we now have an adopted committee structure where one member is required to attend no less than nine meetings and others only two, with all shades in between.

“This does not seem to me to be a fair and equitable share of the committee workload and even denies some members the opportunity to learn and to contribute to the debate in particular areas, for interest and ability should figure in committee selection wherever that is possible. Can this be fair?”

The councillor with membership of nine committees is Arbroath member David Fairweather. He commented: “I willingly put myself forward for these committees. There are some councillors who have a lot to say but don’t do a lot and perhaps some of them should look to do a little more.

“I want to be on as many committees as I can as it helps keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening.”