Dave Mckenna Wrote:
Nick Beale Wrote:The present system doesn't impart background/contextual knowledge like serving on an "old" committee did.
(a) Doesn't it?
(b) I hear this a lot but I wonder if there is any evidence for it.
© Isn't access to information through email / online reports etc light years ahead of where it was then?
(d) Can't members get the information they want through scrutiny or direct from officers?
(e) Doesn't the party group system still operate in the same way and wasn't this always really the best way to get the inside track?
(f) Does sitting in a room when an item is discussed necessarily add up to being better informed?
(g) What is it exactly that was available then to committee members but isn't available now?
(a) I don't think it does.
(b) I can only go on my impressions after an absurd number of years working in both systems but the DCLG's five-year research programme certainly found evidence that non-exec members (i.e. the vast majority) felt marginalised.
© The technical
means are vastly superior, I agree. But see (g) below.
(d) They could, but how do they know that they want it in the first place?
(e) Probably, but I didn't really mean the "inside track", more "general knowledge."
(f) Oddly enough, it did tend have that effect over time.
(g) What the committee system provided was a reason for groups of members to meet regularly, in a forum which they felt duty-bound to attend most meetings of, to hear about and debate service developments. Maybe it was inadvertent but they learned quite a lot about a service after a while. Email bulletins, websites, awareness sessions and training events are more likely to be treated as "if I have time", I think. Members don't regard them as an obligation in the same way that turning up for meetings of (say) the Social Services Committee was.
I'm not claiming the happiest hours of my working life were spent in committee meetings - my job is altogether more interesting now - but the old system was not without its merits.