Deep scrutiny of council businesses is a must watch - John McLellan

I’m the first to admit most readers would flick past a story about Edinburgh Council’s Governance, Risk and Best Value committee, but with its responsibility for deep scrutiny of the authority’s practices, it has a vital role.

By John McLellan
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 4:55 am

It was this committee which sent the shameful report about Edinburgh Secure services, which revealed appalling abuse of vulnerable young people in Council care, to the full council so all councillors would know what happened.

As happened with the Tanner reports into abuse and poor management culture, very few of the administration councillors read the full reports because, I would argue, they didn’t want to know, and then voted against having a proper debate.

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The committee is normally convened by a member of the opposition and until May the redoubtable Jo Mowat was in charge; horror of horrors, a Conservative running a council committee. If you believe Cllr Adam McVey, she should not even be convener of the licensing sub-committee which decides stuff like late pub opening and taxi licence applications.

The new GRBV convener is ex-housing convener Kate Campbell, someone very much at the heart of the last administration but who is now responsible for scrutinising the impact and implementation of decisions she and her colleagues took.

As I’m told, Cllr Campbell developed a reputation amongst senior officers for taking an enthusiastic interest in the contents of their reports before publication, the committee’s performance will be worth watching. As Cllr Mowat is still a member, at least “institutional memory” will not be lost.

Councillor Kate Campbell is now at the helm of Edinburgh's Governance, Risk and Best Value committee - which plays a crucial role in keeping checks on council business, writes John McLellan. PIC: Scott Louden.