Ardrossan & Arran Independent councillor John Hunter has been handed a crucial role as Chair of a new North Ayrshire Council ‘Scrutiny and Petitions Committee’.
Cllr Hunter chaired the Scrutiny Committee in the previous Council (2007-2012) and it was his acknowledged abilities in such a challenging role that saw him nominated by the SNP administration to take charge of the new committee with an expanded remit.
Labour members proposed Largs councillor Alex Gallagher to Chair Scrutiny and Petitions, but in a vote John Hunter triumphed by 18-12.
In addition to scrutinising decisions and actions taken by the SNP administration, the new committee will also receive public petitions. Previously, petitions could be submitted to meetings of the full Council only with the Provost’s agreement, and there was no requirement for councillors to consider the issue raised. Prior to the Council setting its budget in February, the North Ayrshire Branch of the Scottish Socialist Party submitted a petition calling on councillors to refuse to implement further cuts to jobs and services, and instead to set a budget to meet the needs of local communities. The petition contained the signatures of almost 1,500 members of the public, but councillors ignored it and the SSP was refused permission to address the meeting.
With the creation of a petitions element to the Scrutiny Committee’s remit, it is hoped members of the public will now be able to submit petitions on issues of concern and that councillors will strive to resolve matters raised or, at the very least, secure answers to questions highlighted in petitions.
The full membership of the new Scrutiny and Petitions Committee is:
Chair – John Hunter (Independent), Vice-Chair – Alex Gallagher (Labour), Matthew Brown (SNP), Catherine McMillan (SNP), Alan Munro (Labour), Joan Sturgeon (SNP).
One further place remains to be filled.