22/08/2012

Scrutiny Committee

Today I attended a meeting of the City Council's Scrutiny Committee.  There was a focus at the meeting on a report on the misappropriation of funds from Baldragon Academy, for this crime one individual has already been given a custodial sentence.  I felt that the report should have had a look at a broader picture rather than focus on one instance of wrong doing.  I felt that a look at the policy at a strategic level across the Education Department and indeed the council was required.  I thought that the papers presented to us did not go far enough.  I was pleased to hear that this area will receive attention from the council's internal auditors and that the council was duty bound to inform its external auditors of this fraud.  I look forward to seeing the results of work which was included in the Internal Audit Plan for 2012/13 but I still felt that there is a need for more and a need for a fuller review.  I was surprised that there was a reluctance to look at Councillor Black's eminently sensible suggestion of looking at how we could use the National Entitlement Card to reduce the need for cash handling in schools.  This seemed to me to be an eminently sensible idea.


I also asked about a couple of other reports, I welcomed Dundee still having the most popular libraries in Scotland per head of population even if there was a small decrease in attendance.  I also commented on a report which states that the number of people using library PCs was down.  This is in large part due to more and more people having access to portable devices and using wireless connections.  I said that the council should look for new ways of measuring statistics in this area but that it was essential to bear in mind that as more and more people have computer equipment in their homes and portable devices outside the home that there are people who are excluded from this.  The council must bear this in mind as having access to a computer is becoming an essential facet of daily life.  The council needs to continue to work with Leisure and Culture Dundee and others to ensure that there is no social , economic or digital divide built up.  We need to make sure that computing facilities are there for those who need them and in actual fact the offer in Dundee's libraries is excellent value for money.

I also asked about reports which highlighted that as a result of the recent fire at DERL that the council was performing badly in terms of the increase in landfill and a reduction in recycling.  It is unfortunate that this is the case and I know that officers will be working very hard to ensure that new ways of improving recycling are found while the DERL plant remains out of commission.