Councillors Want More Discussion On Risks Facing Authority

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Scilly’s Council has “monumental tasks ahead” to “escape the consequence of the high risk” outlined in their catalogue of threats to the authority.

That’s the view expressed by Cllr Gordon Bilsborough during Tuesday’s Finance, Audit and Scrutiny meeting.

Members were debating the new risk register, a document which details issues that could adversely affect the viability and functioning of the islands’ Council.

Those threats range from the strong likelihood of the islands’ Council losing some responsibilities when additional powers are devolved to Cornwall, to government grant cuts and a failure to attract “sufficient councillors of an appropriate calibre” at the 2017 election.

The wide-ranging report also claims that the Council work environment is, “not conducive to the retention of professional and high quality staff.”

Gordon wanted to know what the Council could do about the fourteen items identified as “very high risk.”

He felt that things were “not being done” currently and the Council was on “a downward path.”

Committee Chairman Steve Sims tried to reassure Gordon that the Council currently had resources in place to address the challenges listed.

Members were being asked to approve the report listing the risks, but both Gordon and Cllr Richard McCarthy felt that there were too many items that required more discussion before they could sign off the list and let officers get on with it.

Richard felt that “the devil’s in the detail” and he wanted a special meeting devoted to discussing the potential threats.

Cllr Sims advised that talking about the risks wouldn’t change them “one iota” but members still wanted a meeting.

And Gordon strongly opposed suggestions that a private meeting should be convened to discuss risks to the future of the authority.

He wanted press and public present, asking, “What have we got to hide?”

He also asked for an assurance that no decisions would be made behind closed doors, although Steve Sims explained that members couldn’t agree actions in an informal meeting.

It was agreed that members needed training so they can better understand what the risk register actually means.

Cllr Christine Savill, who put forward that idea, said that it was important that the Council had produced the risk register and it was “appreciated.”

But Chris agreed that Tuesday’s Finance and Scrutiny Committee wasn’t ready to approve the risk register and strategy without knowing more, so the register was “accepted” and there’ll be more debate about it.