Communication breakdown at NHDC: Councillors and officers at loggerheads

COMMUNICATIONS are breaking down at North Herts District Council with councillors and officers at loggerheads.

Members are accusing staff of putting them off when they make queries and claim they sometimes have to wait three weeks for a reply.

A report was discussed on Tuesday which also claimed many officers have never even met a councillor.

Councillors who sit on the task group discussed the comments at the meeting, and all agreed with the recommendations to consider the issue at Cabinet.

The report reveals that Cllr Terry Hone, deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance, also said that officers’ treatment of councillors could be patchy.

But the Senior Member Team (SMT), which includes chief executive John Campbell and other senior officers, disputed some of the claims.

The report states: “The member/officer protocol is based on a model protocol.

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“SMT considers that it has a clear statement about what members and officers should expect from each other.”

It then adds: “SMT agrees with the principles associated with keeping local members informed about local events beforehand and is keen to ensure that communication is as streamlined as possible.

“It should however be recognised that there may be circumstances relating to policy development, contractual or legal matters where certain factors cannot be disclosed.”

The report will go forward to Cabinet on March 20 2012 for consideration.”