Conwy Council ‘less open, transparent, and democratic’

CONWY County Council is less open, transparent, and democratic than neighbouring authorities when appointing committee chairs, says a concerned councillor.

Cllr Harry Saville criticised Conwy for the way it appoints chairs for its various scrutiny committees.

In the past, chairs of the committees were elected by other members, but this civic year they have been appointed by the leader and deputy leader.

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Speaking at a recent council meeting, Cllr Harry Saville put a question to cabinet member for democracy and governance Cllr Chris Cater, asking why the process had changed.

Cllr Chris Cater said there had been a review of existing legislation, citing section 70 of the Local Government Wales Measure 2011.

Cllr Cater said: “There is a specific appointment process for the groups outlined in the legislation, so accordingly the legislation is clear that it is for groups to appoint rather than an election by the individual scrutiny committees.”

Also speaking at the meeting, Cllr Saville criticised the decision.

“So I recognise the point that you have made about the legislative requirements. I wonder if there are any alternatives that could be explored,” he said.

“As the cabinet member will be aware, political appointments are made by group leaders, and we find ourselves in a situation now where half of our scrutiny committee chairs have been directly appointed by the leader or the deputy leader they are supposed to scrutinise, not that I’m necessarily complaining about that.

“I can recognise that is matter is a legislative requirement. But it certainly means that the council has become a little less open, a little less transparent, and a little less democratic.”

Cllr Saville then asked Cllr Cater if there were alternative options that could be explored, looking at the practices of other authorities.

Cllr Cater replied that he would discuss the matter with the head of law and governance.

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno