I have had a reply from Mr Hendry but have not had a reply from Cllr Walsh. The correspondence is pasted below for you to read and comment on. To see the earlier correspondence, look back at the blogs over the last several days with a similar title.
From: mills, susan On Behalf Of Hendry, Douglas Sent: 11 May 2015 17:45 To: Breslin, Michael Cc: Dance, Vivien; Marshall, Bruce; Walsh, Dick; Loudon, Sally Subject: FW: service choices project board [OFFICIAL]
Further to your email of 6th May below, I confirm the following points:-
1. I confirm the Chief Executive’s advice, that it was competent for the Policy and Resources Committee, on 2nd April, to set up the Project Board which has been put in place
2. For the avoidance of any doubt, there is no particular legal significance in the term “Project Board”. “Task Group” or “Working Party” could equally have been used.
3. What is of significance, however, is that the Group which has been put in place by Policy and Resources is not a Committee or Sub Committee of the Council. To be entirely clear the Project Board has no decision making powers.
4. Given that the Project Board is not a Committee or Sub Committee of the Council, the extract from the Constitution which you have reproduced in your email is not relevant in these circumstances.
5. My understanding is that the Project Board’s remit is to consider how best to take forward Service Choices, and to produce options to be presented at a workshop for all Elected Members to consider. All decisions in relation to Service Choices are, as I have noted above, clearly excluded from the Project Board/Members workshop, but, rather, remain with the Policy and Resources Committee, and ultimately the full Council.
I hope this response is helpful in terms of clarifying the position.
My reply was as follows:
Even if what you say is correct, this is an artificial construct that is out with the standing orders of the council. I do not believe that is remotely right and proper. The fact is has no decision making powers is irrelevant. This construct removes scrutiny from elected members; it denies access to any papers, it produces no minutes and it meets in secret. On this last point Douglas, Cllr Walsh hasn’t replied so I am taking it as read that they have all agreed to meet in secret.
This isn’t some banana republic Douglas but it seems to want to behave as one.
I quote again part of the quote I used from the constitution. I am firmly of the view that this kind of group is unconstitutional on the simple grounds it’s not mentioned in the constitution and it denies me access to documents and information in a manner that impedes my ability to carry out my duties.
Would you like to reconsider please before I place all this correspondence in the hands of Audit Scotland tomorrow?
They have the right of access to the documents, information, land and buildings that are
owned or in the possession or control of the Council in so far as such access is necessary for the proper discharge of their duties as a Councillor and in
accordance with the law.
UPDATE AT 2100
Cllr Walsh replied when he saw my reply to Mr Hendry. He had a go at me for the tone of my reply but failed to deny that the meetings were secret. So, they are secret.
No papers, no minutes and all those attending sworn to secrecy and, in all probability, the meetings themselves are unconstitutional. Dear me.