PUBLIC presence at a meeting on Thursday night helped sway councillors in creating a totally independent panel to scrutinise the process and actions of the council over the Sheerwater regeneration.
Original plans for the meeting involved appointing an independent chairman, with cross-party elected members making up the rest of the panel.
But sensing the need for a more objective approach, Liberal Democrats suggested a completely independent team – something which was met with backing from the Conservative contingent in the chamber.
Claire Storey, who is an Independent Member of Woking Borough Council’s Standards and Audit Committee, has been installed as Chairman, and among the three-strong panel will be a monitoring officer from another borough.
Overview and Scrutiny Chairman, Cllr Saj Hussain, told the News & Mail: “Our recommendation was to proceed as planned, but on the night of the meeting we felt that an independent approach to the matter was warranted.”
After an adjournment – the first since 2008 – the voting showed cross-party support for the change. Cllr Hussain explained that he would be supporting the panel in his role as Overview and Scrutiny Chairman to ‘leave no stone unturned’ in the processes surrounding the proposed ward revamp.
“I urge all residents and councillors to submit their views in writing or verbally so a full and fair assessment of the council’s actions can be made,” he said.
“No stone will be left unturned and we will be working hard to make sure that full facts and figures are available before proposals are submitted to the Planning Committee.”