Shortest meeting ever? #Manchester council and the upcoming local elections #ConsandNoms

Twenty minutes from start to finish.  Some answers to simple and specific questions in Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committees have taken longer than that (thinking to the fractious AF ones just before lockdown #01).  But in under 20 minutes the Constitution and Nomination committee  (“Cons and Noms”) of Manchester City Council met this morning, did what it came to do, and closed up.

It was helped by the fact that there was only one item on the agenda – the covid-safe arrangements for the City Council elections being held on Thursday May 6th.  Further, there’s much that is yet to be decided (some current polling stations may not be available) and that the council leadership is going to use “delegated powers”.)

The Cons and Noms meeting on Wednesday 31st March will possibly be slightly longer, and definitely more interesting, because it is at that one that the new scrutiny arrangements will be looked at before they are sent to full Council later the same morning.  Will there  be a strong committee, that has the whole city’s emissions in its remit, and co-opted members, or will Manchester City Council try to get away with a shallow rebranding exercise?  Watch this space.  As the Chair of the meeting – Pat Karney, (Labour, Harpurhey) said at the end –

Besides Karney and Murphy, only three other councillors spoke (it was unclear to me who else was actually present).

Shelley Lanchbury, Labour, Higher Blackley can always be relied on to ask specific and relevant questions and to ask for follow-up information. And so it was today.

and

John Leech, LibDem, Didsbury West wanted to know about covid arrangements and flows

and the answer is that people ARE going to be asked to wait outside

Basil Curley, Labour, Charlestown wanted to know about arrangements for agents to inspect the voting process itself (which is likely, btw, to be happening at Manchester Central).

Various other members of the committee were either not present or didn’t speak. These were

  • Richard Leese, Labour, Crumpsall
  • John Flanagan, Labour. Miles Platting and Newton
  • Aftab Razaq Labour, Whalley Range (suspended from Labour Group, during an investigation about possible breech of COVID rules)
  • Susannah Reeves Labour, Old Moat – Chief Whip of the Labour Group

It will be interesting to see what the turn out is on Weds 31st, and as to how many of the councillors speak in favour of the strongest possible recommendations about scrutiny, as per the open letter just published. CEM’s vision of how the committee could be constituted, what it could look at, how it could function, can be found here.

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