A key council committee meeting to be held tonight has been cancelled. The health and social care scrutiny meeting was due to take place from 6.30pm – just as Harry Kane and the England team will have been finishing their warm-up ahead of the kick-off in Moscow for their crucial World Cup match against Colombia.
The council sub-committee might have been reasonably expected to put a spotlight on what urgent measures the council is putting in place following the collapse last week of the company which provided respite care for the borough’s thousands of carers.
Instead, none of the council staff responsible for this important area of the local authority’s responsibilities will be subjected to questioning tonight, nor until September 25, the next time the sub-committee is scheduled to meet.
The health and social care sub-committee has not met since April 27. It means that council staff working in health and social care will have gone five months without having to face any awkward questions from inquisitive councillors.
The notice of the meeting’s cancellation was posted on the council website only yesterday. There was no postponement, and no alternative date arranged.
Last week, and before England’s Round of 16 draw had been settled, the meeting had been listed as re-arranged for “councillor training”.
It is just the latest of a string of council meetings to have been cancelled or postponed. In June, no fewer than eight scheduled committee meetings were cancelled or postponed. This followed the six-week period of council purdah in the run-up to the local elections on May 3, when little council business was conducted. And the Town Hall will be on virtual shut-down in a couple of weeks and throughout August for the annual summer break.
“It doesn’t look very good for councillors to have so many cancelled meetings just at a time when they are looking to vote through a pay rise for themselves,” one Katharine Street source said today.
It looks even worse if important council business is being abandoned just so some councillors can go off with their mates down to council-subsidised Boozepark to watch the football…
It is not the first time this Labour administration has been caught taking its eye off the ball, as it were, over football. Senior Labour council figures Pat Ryan and John Wentworth escaped with little more than slapped wrists when they were caught watching a Crystal Palace match on their tablet in the Town Hall chamber during a meeting of the council in 2015.
The health and social care scrutiny sub-committee is chaired by Labour’s Sherwan Chowdhury, who receives a councillor special responsibility allowance for the duties of £21,761 per year. Vice-chair is Tory councillor Andy Stranack.
Senior figures in the Labour-run council have denied that tonight’s meeting has been cancelled because of the fixture clash with the football, though the council officer responsible for managing the sub-committee has not responded to Inside Croydon’s request for an alternative explanation for the cancellation.
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