26/08/2011

Scrutiny Committee

On Wednesday I attended a meeting of the City Council's Scrutiny Committee. The committee heard about a very good HMIe report on St Fergus Primary School, I took the opportunity to congratulate the headteacher and ask that he takes back our congratulations to his staff, pupils and the wider school community.

On the issues of Arms Length External Organisations like the new Leisure and Culture Dundee Trust I felt that the implication of the Audit Scotland report Arm's-Length external organisations (ALEOs): are you getting it right? was that such organisations should provide reports to the Scrutiny Committee or some other committee where they would be able to be questioned by councillors in public. At present once-a-year a report is made to the Policy and Resources Committee but the organisation has no right of audience at that committee and therefore cannot be questioned by elected members. There is usually an annual meeting between officers of the council, Conveners and representatives of the ALEOs but these are private.


There was report on instances of violence against council staff. As a councillor I have a duty of care to the employees of the council which should be taken very seriously. There can be no excuse for violence or aggression towards council staff. I asked about the policy with regard to reporting incidents to the police. I was pleased to be told that the council's policy will be made available to all elected members so that we can have a look at it. I was assured by the council that the policies in place would not leave the council open to claims from employees that they were not receiving the appropriate attention.

I was very concerned about Internal Audit reports which suggest that with regard to school transport audit procedures could not all contracts had been signed, that the names all those contractors who might come into contact with school pupils was known, that the council could not be sure that all transport escorts had the appropriate disclosure check and the council could not be sure that all vehicles were appropriately insured. From answers to my questions I think that this is really about the bureaucracy but I think if the council could not be satisfied on these extremely important issues then the service should not have run. As corporate parents councillors have a duty to protect Dundee's children and I don't think in this instance that we done enough. I have contacted the Chief Executive to make him aware of my on-going concerns. From speaking to council officers I feel that there was probably no real reason for concern but I feel if we cannot be as certain as it possible to be, then this is unacceptable.