Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What else did CPALC miss?

When St Neots Town Council applied for Quality Status, yet again, this didn't the alarm bells ring at CPALC HQ. It should have done. St Neots Town Councils previous Quality Status had lapsed. During the last 4 year period this Town Council had two damning audit reports and, at one point, stopped spending money. This from a Quality Town Council.

I know this Quality Status is given for 4 years. During the last period St Neots Town Council did not hold to the standards set. This is the main reason the Town Council let the Quality Status lapse. CPALC doesn't have the power to cut short a Quality Town Council Status. Maybe they should.

Test 3 says:
Notices of meetings are publicly displayed at least three clear days before each meeting. The evidence for this has to be notices and minutes for the 12 months prior to application. Now I can say I didn't see the meeting of 13th September 2010 displayed beforehand. It certainly wasn't on the website otherwise I would have been writing about it before 29th October 2010. This is not the first time. Nor the second time. Nor for the third time. Nor did I see it on the Noticeboard.

When I get a reply to an earlier Freedom of information request on 14th June 2010 to minutes of an Audit Committee meeting held on 20th January 2010, I have to question whether St Neots Town Council is up to Quality Status

"The minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 20 January will be forwarded to you after approval at the next Audit Committee meeting."

The difference between a Parish Council, which this scheme was designed for, is Town Councils are larger should have a delegated committee system. Leaving aside the 6 meetings of Town Council these delegated Committees should have their agendas and minutes published. There is a Health and Safety Committee which no one knows about or the Personnel Committee which is shaded in secrecy. These too should have their agendas published but aren't.

By the strict criteria of the test, SNTC passes most of the test. Where I challenge this is over the meeting of 13th September 2010 where no Agenda was published on a website and I certainly didn't see this Agenda posted on the notice board. SNTC therefore fails the test.

Obviously CPALC, Ian Dewar, Diane Bayliss and Steve Wilkinson and the Accreditation committee think this state of affairs for the previous 12 months is correct. This is a sign of a Quality Town Council. Yet this has demeaned the status of being a Quality Town Council.

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