A straightforward transfer of funds between two projects has revealed another inaccuracy in the official minutes of North Ayrshire Council.
The minute of a recent meeting of the local authority’s ruling SNP Cabinet states that £300,000 is to be transferred from a programme of electrical rewiring and central heating replacement and will be used instead within a programme of re-roofing and rendering. The reason given for the change is that “the Council's main contractor for these works, CFM Limited” has served notice of its intention to pull-out of the contract. However, CFM Limited is the name of an English financial services company that was officially dissolved in March 2010. The central heating contractor pulling out of its contract with the Council is CFM Building Services Limited of Carluke.
Ardrossan Independent councillor John Hunter believes Council minutes must be accurate. He told the3towns, “In this case it is a relatively small error, but it is an error nonetheless. Council minutes are supposed to be accurate reflections of what took place at meetings. They are also the only record to which the public of North Ayrshire has access. Anyone reading the official minute of the Cabinet meeting would be under the impression the Council had a central heating contract with a financial services company that went out of business almost three years ago.”
Cllr Hunter recently challenged the minute of the November 7 meeting of North Ayrshire Council, in which the abstention of the Labour group in relation to a Motion on the wages of modern apprentices had not been recorded. John Hunter said, “Cllr Ronnie McNicol and I sought to suspend Standing Orders so that our Motion supporting a wage increase for modern apprentices could be discussed. The SNP group moved that Standing Orders should not be suspended. If the Labour councillors had supported us we could have had the debate and the Council’s lowest-paid workers could have had a pay rise. But they didn’t support us, they abstained, which meant the SNP managed to block the Motion.”
Cllr Hunter explained why he challenged the minute, “This is the only official record of events that the North Ayrshire public has access to, but the minute did not record the actions of the Labour group. When I challenged the matter at the December Council meeting, I was told only votes for and against a proposal are recorded, not abstentions. This means the public have no official way of knowing the full implications of councillors’ actions. the3towns reported what happened, but the Council minutes should also be a true and accurate reflection of what takes place at meetings.”
The Independent councillor argues that Council meetings should be recorded and full transcripts of what takes place should be made available to the public through the local authority’s website. Cllr Hunter said, “In this day and age it should not be beyond the capability of the Council to provide an accurate official minute, without errors or omissions. That is the very least the local public should expect.”