Isle of Wight councillors dissected the cabinet’s decision to enter a public health partnership with Hampshire last night (1st August), asking whether the ‘dynamic nature’ was cutting corners.
Cabinet voted on 11th July to enter a long-term public health partnership which would see the Isle of Wight share Hampshire’s director of public health.
Cllr Lilley said he had not received sufficient answers to questions about the decision.
Mosdell: Left the chamber to compose herself
Cllr Clare Mosdell, the cabinet member responsible for public health, said she was ‘disappointed’ the decision had been called in.
She was clearly frustrated at last night’s meeting and left the council chamber for five minutes during her opening statement to compose herself, saying she was ‘cross’ after being told she was straying from the scope of the meeting.
Mosdell: Low risk decision
Cllr Mosdell said it was a low risk decision and Cllr Lilley’s expectation for such detailed reports ‘fails to take into account the dynamic nature in which this council does business so it’s not tied up with bureaucracy’.
She said in a perfect world all the information would be provided, but in reality the council has ‘very limited organisational capacity’.
Cllr Mosdell said she had been working very closely with the director of public health and it would be impossible to record all their regular interactions, which is why she regularly attends scrutiny meetings to update on her progress.
Lilley: Demanded detail report
Cllr Lilley said he wanted to see a detailed report like the one Hampshire County Council had provided, analysing the proposed partnership.
He said the fact it was a ‘low risk’ decision did not justify the lack of information provided.
Cllr Lilley said:
“There has to be a proper process and I think there is a mantra with the current national government of this kind of dynamism, of cutting corners.
“Hampshire did not cut corners, they actually did provide information and I feel that should have happened on the Isle of Wight.”
Metcalfe: Difficult and expensive to recruit
The Isle of Wight and Hampshire have had an interim partnership since January 2018, when the Island’s director of public health left.
John Metcalfe, chief executive of the Isle of Wight Council, said it would have been very difficult and expensive to recruit a new director of public health for the Island.
Metcalfe: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”
He said the Hampshire deal would stay within their £132,000 budget, but recruiting someone themselves could have cost more.
“Hampshire know the Island. In short, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
Cllr Lilley said he received some but not all of the answers he wanted.
The scrutiny committee voted unanimously to accept the cabinet’s decision, but it would continue to be scrutinised by the adult social care committee.
Image: © Tom Stroud