Fancy doing your bit to keep an eye on Greenwich Council? Well, now’s your chance. But you’ve got to move quickly. Very quickly.
Under the coalition’s new “localism” laws, councils have to change they way their own councillors are scrutinised. They now have to establish a standards committee to adjudicate on complaints about councillors’ behaviour, consisting of three councillors and three independent members.
There’s a vacancy for the new committee, as Sir Michael Pike, the current chair of the probity and conduct committee, can’t stand for the new standards panel. So, the council needs to advertise for a new one.
This is a big job – ultimately, it’s about deciding on the conduct of those elected to public office, whether they’re behaving well or failing to come up to scratch. So, how did “royal” Greenwich decide to promote this?
By burying this ad at the back of last week’s propaganda weekly, Greenwich Time:
Unfortunately, the online version of GT doesn’t render very well, although you can see a PDF of the page here, where it shares space with an ad for a skip firm and another one for a car dealer in, um, South Norwood.
One thing you’ll notice is that the closing date is TODAY. Greenwich Time is delivered between Tuesday and Thursday, so many potential applicants would only have eight days to get an application form from the council and return it. The back of Greenwich Time, with the skips and the bangers, is the only place this role has been advertised – there’s no sign of it on the council’s baffling website, certainly not in the jobs section. The council aims to have someone in place to be ratified by the next council meeting, on 24 July.
Is the council trying to hide something? “It’s raised eyebrows all over the council,” an old hand tells me. While nobody who knows a councillor or council officer well is allowed to take the job, there’s a widespread suspicion that the leadership is hoping someone amenable will get the job – and the fewer applications they get, the more chance that an “approved” candidate can be parachuted into the role.
Of course, Greenwich borough residents who fancy the role can bring this to a halt – and apply themselves. If you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, why not drop a line to council legal head Russell Power, and get a form if you fancy a pop at it? You’ll be doing your fellow citizens – and quite a few concerned councillors – a favour.
PS. It’s also nearing the deadline for questions for that council meeting, which will be the last until Hallowe’en. After all, it’s not like there’s anything important going on for councillors to discuss in the intervening 15 weeks, is it? You can ask up to two questions – an 853 reader beat press, politicians and lazy local blog types to the cost of the royal borough rebranding a few months back, so here’s your chance to hold them to account.
Drop firstname.lastname@example.org a line, be nice, and make sure it’s in by noon on Tuesday. After all, if you don’t keep the council on its toes, in this borough, who else will?