Apology after Luton panel chair kept in the dark over air quality report

Only four of 19 suggestions in the report were accepted

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 2:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 2:10 pm
Luton Council

A senior council officer has apologised to a Luton borough councillor who was kept in the dark about an update to a committee on the work of a panel he chaired.

A progress report on the recommendations of the London Luton Airport air quality task and finish group was being presented to the local authority's overview and scrutiny board on Monday night. (October 25)

But it emerged that Liberal Democrat Crawley councillor Terry Keens, who presided over the group's findings, only learnt about the agenda item from a party colleague earlier in the day.

The borough council's executive previously decided to implement four of the 19 suggestions made by the group.

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks told the board: "I understand this report wasn't sent to the chairman of the task and finish group.

"Councillor Keens is present with us this evening," he said. "It would be interesting to know if he's had the opportunity to look at this document and if he's anything interesting to say having read it."

Councillor Keens said: "I was only told about this report coming to this committee at half past ten this morning.

"It would have been common courtesy for the officers to have told me it was being considered here and I could have read it properly.

"From what I've read of it, I'm not happy with your response to any of these items. It went before executive and was virtually thrown out of hand by certain people.

"We weren't at all happy with the response. You've taken up four. I'm pleased you're not just ignoring the whole thing. I would like to have a good read of this.

"If you want to bring it back to another meeting I'm willing to return and talk further on it.

"Am I getting an apology?" he asked. "I spent an awful lot of time on it and just to be ignored I feel very aggrieved by this."

Service director of inclusive economy Nicola Monk said: "Yes, t think it was an oversight and we're sorry for that. Extending our apologies, yes.

"It's an update report. It doesn't require any recommendations or decisions. But I apologise to councillor Keens that he didn't have early sight of this before today's meeting."

Councillor Keens replied: "It seems to be the thing at present for officers not to contact councillors and it's getting a bit much."

Labour Challney councillor Tom Shaw, who's the portfolio holder for climate change, said: "I agree you should have been told as chairman this item was on.

"I had three items on the agenda and was told at ten o'clock this morning, but it wasn't a problem as they're all my policies."