Last night there was a vote for me to Chair the Grants Scrutiny Sub-Committee of the Council, it also means I am the Lead for Resources Scrutiny i.e. looking at budgets etc.
It was a competitive election against a candidate from the independent group of Cllrs but I won the vote on a 5 to 2 basis with support from Labour and PATH Councillors.
I stood because;
1. This role should not be held by a member of the same party that runs the Council i.e. Labour. One of the reasons why Lutfur Rahman was removed was mis-use of the grants process to reward his support base. The risk of a Labour person doing this role is that grants become to be seen as a political tool again
2. Also not a role that should be held by a former Tower Hamlets First Councillor as they benefitted from previous mis-use of grants
3. My ward, Canary Wharf gets the least amount of grants of any ward in TH so therefore I will have less personal interest in grant decisions then nearly every other Councillor in TH
4. I do want to do a big piece of work on the Council Budget this year and really involve local people in that work and the Resource Scrutiny role will help me with that.
The role does come with a Special Responsibility Allowance of £8,000 a year. The logic being it is more work then just being a normal Councillor as I need to do more work preparing for meetings and writing reports etc.
Previously by the time you added up all of the costs I incur from the Council work I do i.e. printing, website, mobile phone, campaigning, travelling, magazine subscriptions plus spend on the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Forum I did not earn much if any money from being a Cllr (especially as Allowances are taxed). That will change with this additional money so I will be financially benefiting from this additional work although it will also be taxed.
This is what the Sub-Committee does
"This Sub-Committee was established to support an objective, fair, transparent and co-ordinated approach to grant funding across the Council including but not restricted to the following.
(a) overseeing the process and arrangements for awarding and administering grants and related procurement processes to ensure a strategic approach;
(b) overseeing the processing arrangements for developing grants criteria and assessment methodology
(c) overseeing the monitoring, performance management and evaluation arrangements in relation to funded projects; and
(d) ensuring fairness and transparency in the grant awarding process.
The Grants Sub-Committee will be mindful of the Council’s objective to create an environment for a thriving Third Sector."