The Committee discussed that item 7 is an exempt report and therefore the public and press and any officers not involved would need to leave the meeting so the item could be heard in private.
Councillor Byrne commented that he could see no reason why item 7 should be an exempt report. It goes against what Councillor Coxshall has said about the Council being transparent going forward and demonstrates that they are keeping secrets again like they have done for the last 2 – 3 years.
Councillor Muldowney also queried why the report should be exempt.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer confirmed that under the legislation the reason given by officers for keeping the report confidential from the public is that it contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
The Assistant Director for Counter Fraud, Community Safety and Resilience confirmed that when he came to the role the report was exempt and his understanding is that this is because it is about changing the roles of those outside our organisation.
The Members took a vote and three agreed it should remain exempt (The Chair, Councillor Arnold and Councillor Pearce) and three members disagreed (Councillor Byrne, Councillor Muldowney and Councillor Chukwu).
The Senior Democratic Services Officer confirmed that if a decision was made by Members that the report should not be exempt she would advise that legal advice is obtained and the item should be deferred.
The Assistant Director for Counter Fraud, Community Safety and Resilience agreed with the Senior Democratic Services Officer.
Neil Speight from the press asked to speak and the Chair allowed this. Neil Speight outlined that he had seen the report as it had been leaked to him and he could not see any reason why it is exempt. In his opinion, the report is about an important policy of the Conservatives and the only reason it is not being disclosed to the public is because it embarrasses them.
The Chair responded that she had read the report and had also queried why it was exempt but she could not ignore the fact that it was on pink paper.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer advised the Chair that if she was not sure she could defer the item so that legal advice could be obtained as to whether all or parts of the report could be disclosed to the public and that it would be within her discretion to call an extraordinary meeting so the item could be heard at a later date as there were no more Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings scheduled for this municipal year.
The Assistant Director for Counter Fraud, Community Safety and Resilience added that the review was on the value for money of the contract and the right time to assess this was at the end of the first year of the contract, not the last and the longer this goes on the less importance the decision will have.
The Chair decided to defer the item so that legal advice could be obtained and requested that an extraordinary meeting is arranged to consider the report.