Isle of Wight Conservative councillor, Cllr Richard Hollis, has been elected as the next chairperson of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee – the group of councillors whose role it is to scrutinise policy decisions and actions of the Conservative administration.
Cllr Hollis was nominated by Conservative leader of the Isle of Wight council, Dave Stewart. Also nominated but failing to receive enough votes was Cllr Karl Love (Ind) was nominated by Cllr Geoff Brodie (Ind Labour) and Cllr Michael Lilley (Ind Green) who is the current Vice Chairperson and was nominated by Cllr Debbie Andre (Island Ind).
Love: A step backwards for democracy
Following the meeting, the councillor for East Cowes, Karl Love, said he believed it was a step backwards for democracy.
He told News OnTheWight,
“Last night’s election of Cllr Hollis to the Chair of Corporate Scrutiny was a step backwards for democracy.
“I have lost confidence in the scrutiny leadership and its intended purpose, which is to dive deeply and searchingly into the political workings, decisions and issues of good governance.”
Brodie: Lack of public credibility
Cllr Geoff Brodie told News OnTheWight it was the first time in his 15 years as councillor that a ruling group has taken the Scrutiny Chair.
“As a former policeman, Cllr Stewart should know all about the lack of public credibility when police complaints were investigated internally.
“I consider this to be similar.”
According to an insider there have been a flurry of emails whizzing around County Hall following the meeting, with a great deal of unhappiness being expressed about this move by the Conservative group.
Andre: Brings into serious doubt their commitment to residents
This afternoon Cllr Debbie Andre told News OnTheWight,
“Previously we had reverse proportionality on Scrutiny. Firstly the administration voted through a change so we no longer have that. Now they have seen fit to put in a Chair from the administration.
“It does bring into serious question how effective will Scrutiny be?”
She went on to add,
“At the end of the day the Conservatives are a national political party and have a line to follow.
“It’s almost like putting themselves in control of both challenging and being a critical friend to policy and decision making at the highest levels, does bring into serious doubt their commitment to the residents of the Island.”
Love: Boycott the committee
Cllr Love suggested a boycott by councillors,
“I see no point in any political participation to scrutiny which only adds credibility to the sham of giving the elusion of democracy. I suggest a boycott of opposition members.
“The only way to change things now is through the ballot box in May next year.”
Andre: We must continue to be actively involved in Scrutiny
In response to the suggesting of a boycott, Cllr Andre told News OnTheWight,
“I can categorically state that following a group meeting this morning it was unanimous decision of the Island Independent Group that in order to represent our residents to the best of our ability, not only do we need to continue to be actively involved at Corporate Scrutiny, but we will also be putting forward a nomination for vice chair.”
Hollis: I feel most honoured
News OnTheWight contacted Cllr Hollis for his response to the disquiet about someone from the same party as the ruling group being head of Scrutiny.
He told News OnTheWight,
“I was elected as Chairman. A Chairman should be able to put politics aside and be absolutely impartial.
“I have much experience with that scenario at both Richmond and Twickenham Council and the IOW Council as Chairman of Planning.
“This is no difference in that respect to be chosen as Chairman of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee and I feel most honoured.”
6pm 17th Sep 2020 – Statement from Cllr Hollis added