MCFly 018- Board Rigid?

This is from a new section we’ve got called “The Council Gritter”…

Board Rigid?

One outcome of the “Call to Action” report was an “Environmental Strategy Performance Board,” chaired by Sir Howard Bernstein (the Chief Executive Officer- top bureaucrat- of the Council). The Board is made up of [at least] 21 folks, mostly council officers, but also includes the Airport’s top environment bod. It has already met twice and our saucy source says reports are being commissioned left right and centre, from both within the Council and also beyond into the private sector. MCFly don’t know if it’ll be able to get the minutes easily (we’ve asked sweetly) or with a bit of a tussle, but see them we shall. The ESPB might become an extremely effective tool for overcoming inertia and lack of co-ordination between council departments. Here’s hoping…

But where’s the oversight and transparency? As we asked in MCFly 16:

Who will be the external (outside of Greater Manchester) people on it be? Will these people be given access to all documentation, and the time and authority to audit/ask uncomfortable questions of the City Council’s employees and elected members? Will the meetings of this Board be open to the public? Will the public be invited to give evidence to the Board?

MCFly has learnt that various individuals have been approached to be on some sort of “Environmental Strategy Advisory Board”. But would it be able to commission independent research, and have a secretariat that enabled it to hold the ESPB to account? If not, wouldn’t they just be like non-executive directors at so many companies that have been hit by the credit crunch? Anyone worth asking is too smart to risk their reputation to be seen as a fig leaf or rubber stamp. If the Council is casting around for a model of how this all might work, they could do worse than look at what Sheffield has been up to- They’ve got a mixed board, and the minutes get published.


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