Time To End The Secretive Sham That Is The Changing For The Future Board
21 January 2013
I'm calling for an end to the secretive sham that is Dundee City Council's Changing for the Future Board.
The Changing for the Future Board was used as a shield for the SNP-led Administration's Budget cuts.
I believe in openness and transparency and believe that the people of Dundee should have had the opportunity to look at proposals, comment on them and possibly amend them.
Instead the citizens of Dundee were presented with proposals which lack detail, for example, a rise in the size of Maths and English classes in five of the city's nine secondary schools, but which does not say which schools are involved.
I believe that the continuation of the Changing for the Future Board goes against the Councillors' Code of Conduct produced by the Standards Commission for Scotland, and even against Dundee City Council's own values to put 'customers first' and 'report honestly internally and externally.'
Surely the latest attempt to hide behind the Changing for the Future Board just goes to show what a sham it is.
We are told that the Administration's savings proposals come from this secretive body and they come with little detail.
As an elected member of Dundee City Council I do not receive a copy of the agenda or other papers for this meeting, neither do I receive minutes of the meeting. These documents are not available to the public either.
How am I to know whether the council is reporting honestly without access to the papers?
It is also not possible to find out the membership of this shadowy body from the council's website.
In the Councillor's Code of Conduct produced by the Standards Commission for Scotland it states that one of the key principles for councillors is openness.
It goes on to define this as, "You have a duty to be as open as possible about your decisions and actions, giving reasons for your decision and restricting information only when the wider public interest clearly demands it."
I cannot see how the actions of the Changing for the Future Board meet this duty.
Information is still being restricted on some of the proposals, this is not in the public interest but in the political interests of the administration.
The Changing for the Future Board is a secretive sham.
At a time when the public expect more openness from government at all levels, in Dundee we get major decisions made by a secret cabal.
There are difficult decisions being faced by the council thanks to funding decisions made in Holyrood and Westminster.
The council should be consulting with the public on its budget proposals instead of making decisions about people's jobs and young people's education behind closed doors.
The Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive have a duty to every councillor.
They have been unable to convince anyone other than SNP councillors to attend these secret meetings.
They have a duty to think again and look to end this secretive group.