I sit on the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Advisory Board for the County Council. One of our responsibilities is to reply to ‘call-ins’ by members. Basically, if any three non-Cabinet members disagree with a Cabinet decision, they can ask the appropriate Board to ‘call in’ the decision for scrutiny. The Scrutiny Board can then “test the merits of the decision”, “consider the process by which the decision has been formulated”, and if it is not satisfied, refer the decision back to the Cabinet for reconsideration (see the Council’s Constitution).
Given the controversy around the decision not to proceed to Stage 4 of MRWS, which has already claimed the scalp of the responsible Cabinet member Tim Knowles, it was inevitable that a call-in request would be submitted by members of the nuclear tendency in the Council. The request has duly arrived in the names of David Southward, Frank Morgan, and Wendy Skillicorn,three Labour members with neighbouring divisions on the west coast.
As it says in the Constitution (14.11):
It is not sufficient for the call-in notice simply to state that the members concerned wish to test the merit of the decision. The notice shall specify more precisely which aspect or aspects of the decision the members wish to question or challenge.
The call-in notice gives the following six reasons:
- Cabinet gave no coherent reason for the decision
- The decision forgoes the opportunity to identify suitable sites indefinitely
- The premature abandonment of the MRWS process flies in the face of established UK government and Cumbria County Council policies
- The decision discounts the clear majority view of Copeland residents who want the MRWS process to proceed to Stage 4
- The decision jeopardises relations between the UK government and CCC, particularly with regard to nuclear new build
- The decision stultifies economic development in Copeland for a generation
It will be interesting to see whether my fellow-members of the E&E Scrutiny Advisory Board accept this position when we meet on 19th February to consider it.