You might wonder why James Shires, the Derby Labour Party Political Agent attends confidential Council meetings? He has not been elected by the people, he is not an employee, he is a political agent, and yet he is involved in decision making meetings in the Council Offices. Grant Thornton clearly take a dim view of it, and quite rightly. What is his agenda? Who does he account to? What is his role?
“Other arrangements adopted by the Council have led to a blurring of lines. Leadership meetings attended by the Leader and key strategic officers have been held outside the Council’s formal constitutional structures for a number of years. These have often been attended by the local Political Agent. He also attends many of the PCCM (Cabinet) meetings. As he is neither an officer nor Member of the Council, he has no locus within the Council’s constitutional arrangements, to attend meetings with officers present, where Council business is discussed and transacted. There are also data protection and confidentiality implications; particularly as the Agent attends meetings where Council documents are discussed, which he has no rights under the Council’s constitutions to view. This arrangement needs to be regularised. We understand that more recently, the Political Agent has ceased to attend meetings when officers are present.” Grant Thornton’s report on Derby City Council”
Although the last sentence confirms that he has stopped attending meetings when Officers are present that implies that he is still attending other meetings.
Party issues should be separate, and not blurred with the business of running a Council. Who does James Shires account to? Perhaps the person who runs Derby Labour Party? There are questions about democracy here!
As Tony Benn once said
“In the course of my life I have developed five little democratic questions. If one meets a powerful person–Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates–ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.”
Categories: Derby City Council