There is an interesting item (one of many) on the forthcoming Cornwall Council meeting. One that has caught my eye is the recommendation to change how surplus land owned by the Council is deposed of. Item 12 on the Agenda on page 99 gives the full details.
In the report it says:
With a significant disposals programme having been achieved during the 2010/11 financial year and another large number of programmed disposals for the current financial year it is important that the decision making process is streamlined so as to avoid unnecessarily taking up Cabinet time with reports requesting permission to dispose of surplus assets.
There is also the possibility that devolution of services may result in disposals to, for example, parish and town councils and it would be more efficient if decisions on the transfer of less significant properties could be made without referral to Cabinet.
The wording which I have highlighted also caused me concern as my worry is there could be an excuse to not to bother with putting it to Cabinet, and public scrutiny, because the sale could be very controversial. It could be conveniently used to off load something, especially as the financial limit has also been raised to the following:
(i) In paragraph 5.1, increasing the financial limit for capital and revenue payments and receipts for officer decisions to £1,000,000 for capital and £500,000 per annum for revenue; and
(ii) in paragraph 5.1.5, limiting the discount that can be allowed by the Director for Resources in making a disposal decision to £250,000 in relation to capital and £250,000 per annum in relation to revenue.
There is also a huge potential for less Local Member involvement in any disposal of assets. This has happened before when sales have only come to the attention of the Local Member when it appears in the Cabinet Report, or worse, in the local press.
I am all for less bureaucracy and the streamlining of how the Council carries out its business. But, at the end of the day elected oversight is a must, and it should not be watered down to stop awkward questions being asked.