How much has it cost? Well the honest answer is nobody knows, as it was never priced. Nor did the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee discuss the best way forward for the Climate & Ecological Emergency motion (as amended), as it had to under its constitution; which is its legal framework.
On Wednesday 24 July, 2019, shortly after 7pm, Cllr Georgina Treloar (Green) (circled) stood up in the Council Chamber and began uttering the words which led to Folkestone & Hythe District Council, declaring a Climate & Ecological Emergency.
“That Full Council recognises that we are in a climate emergency, and that the issue be referred to Overview and Scrutiny Committee to get the best way forward, and price it”.
This amendment was passed 16 for, 14 against. Then this revised motion, with the above inserted, was put to the vote and the result was 30 for, 0 against.
The next Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) was held on 10th September, 2019. It was chaired by Cllr Rebecca Shoob (Green) (pictured), and the climate change motion was not discussed or priced, at this meeting. After this, the next OSC, again chaired by Cllr Rebecca Shoob (Green), was on the 15 Oct 2019, and again the climate motion was not discussed or priced.
Three days later, on the 18 Oct 2019, the first Climate and Ecological Emergency Working Group began discussing the Climate motion behind closed doors unpriced and without residents knowing the best way forward. It’s clear that prior to setting up the working group, the climate motion was never discussed, or priced by the OSC.
Before moving on, one must realise that Part 7 of the Council’s constitution sets out what the Overview and Scrutiny Rules and Procedures are. The rules and procedures state at 13.2, the OSC can set up ad hoc working groups, and appoint advisers and assessors to assist them in these processes. There is NO publicly available evidence the climate motion was spoken about or priced in any of the minutes of the OSC, between July & Oct 2019, or thereafter, according to the agendas and minutes on the Council’s website.
The working group met behind closed. It met behind closed doors to discuss things like flooding, led lighting, greenhouse gas emissions and other stuff, none of which is, or was commercially confidential. But the working group chaired by former Cllr Lesley Whybrow (pictured) went ahead and discussed these matters behind closed doors.
Now as you may or may not know, the Shepway Green Party promised more democracy and transparency in their 2019 manifesto. However, the Chair of the OSC, Cllr Rebecca Shoob (Green), did not discuss the motion with OSC or price it, before setting up a working group. And the working group chaired by former Cllr & Cabinet member,Lesley Whybrow, hid behind closed doors (hardly transparent) and cost the Council an unknown sum of money, as the work was never priced.
This was not democratic as the process and procedure was not followed. Nor was it transparent as the information discussed behind closed doors, was not commercially confidential.
And just to evidence it was not commercially confidential, you can download and read the information which went before the Climate and Ecological Emergency Working Group below. This is because we at The Shepway Vox Team appreciate process, procedure, democracy and transparency.
So, the OSC chaired and led by a Green, and a working group chaired and led by a former Green Cllr & Cabinet member went ahead. The working group spent money without informing the public how much their investigation, and ad hoc working group, would cost the residents of the district.
We have spoken about Tories being profligate with the public pound, but the evidence in the public domain shows the OSC chaired by a Green Cllr, neither discussed or priced how much the Climate and Ecological Emergency motion would cost. This was a clear breach of the Council’s constitution, its legal framework, and under no circumstances could that be value for money, democratic or transparent.
Finally, it is officers and especially the monitoring officer – Amandeep Khroud (pictured) who should have advised Cllrs on the proper procedure, and ensured they followed the correct processes after the full council decision. That said, Cllrs themselves cannot escape some responsibility in this fiasco of process and procedure, as they were present and knew what was to happen. Plus they can read the constitution just like anyone else. It’s clear they didn’t. It’s clear then officers and Cllrs are culpable for this unpriced fiasco.
But as always you can make your own mind up on that.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Voxatiousness