this evening I attended some scrutiny training at the Town hall.
We had an interesting discussion about skills, the type of questions you ask, how to approach scrutiny and what it's for. We had a good moan about how ineffective it is in Barnet when the Tory administration do bugger all to listen to anything anyone has to say.
Talking about Tories, it was fascinating that 10 Labour Councillors out of 22 were there, just 2 Tories out of 37 were. Alison, myself, Jim, Anne, Ansuya, Agnes, Julie, Geoff, Andreas and Gill were the Labour members. Just Brian Salinger and David Longstaff for the Tories. Says it all really.
There were some useful tips, and it's clear to me that our attitude to commissioning is all wrong in Barnet, we put little emphasis on pre decision scrutiny and too much on post service evaluation. Needs to be the other way round!
There were some funny bits too.
We were talking about a study in Haringey which cost £20,400 to help stop 40 men from smoking. We were told that the net financial earnings that had been made by the extended lifetime of these men was £233,794 per person. There was a bit of an argument that broke out as people pointed out there were added costs as well of people living longer, and questions about how much these people would work, assumptions about missing days etc, to which Julie Johnson said that these people "were strivers!". you had to be there, it was perfectly timed.
When we broke into plenary sessions, we looked at how to approach scrutiny, and Anne Hutton and I had a chat about when you look at services, does monitoring come before management or vice versa? I'm pleased to announce that we have invented management gobbledegook. The Manager/Monitor continuum. One constantly leads to the other. I patent this idea, and claim all credit for it. All the other attendees were blown away by our brilliance, and I could see some were visibly moved. Astar was born tonight in management speak.