New scrutiny panel to look at decisions made by borough council

Basingstoke Gazette: Cllr Keith Watts Cllr Keith Watts

A NEW committee has been set up to scrutinise decisions made by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s cabinet.

Members of the 60-strong borough council voted in favour of the new constitution – a document that sets out how the council operates and how decisions are made.

As part of the revised constitution, which has been developed by the council’s constitutional working party for the last year, a new scrutiny committee will be formed and chaired by a member of the opposition.

The new committee will be headed by Liberal Democrat Whitchurch councillor Keith Watts after 31 councillors voted in favour of him being chairman of the committee, ahead of Labour’s David Potter who received 20 votes.

Five councillors – UKIP members Stephen West and Matthew Ellery, Conservative Steven Peach, Liberal Democrat Stephen Day and Labour’s Gary Watts – were absent from the vote.

The Conservative party has six seats on the 14-member committee and these will be filled by councillors David Leeks, Graham Falconer, Dan Putty, Robert Musson, Elaine Still and Laura Edwards.

Labour members Sean Keating, David Potter, Paul Harvey and Colin Regan, Liberal Democrat leader Gavin James, Independent councillor Onnalee Cubitt and UKIP’s Matthew Ellery complete the committee.

Scrutiny committee chairman Cllr Watts told The Gazette: “I am delighted to be put forward as the first chairman of the new scrutiny committee.

“Undoubtedly, it will be a big workload as there is a lot to look at.

“It is vital that the scrutiny committee sets its own agenda and scrutinises matters that the cabinet might wish it didn’t.

“Scrutiny isn’t about opposing everything. It is about getting better outcomes for local residents.”

He added: “All parties should have something to contribute in a constructive way, and that includes the Conservative backbenchers.”

The scrutiny committee is expected to meet for the first time on June 17.

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