Apologies that this is a long-ish item. Especially as it ends with a depressing conclusion.
According to Wikipedia,
“Action items are usually created during a discussion by a group of people who are meeting about one or more topics and during the discussion it is discovered that some kind of action is needed. The act required is then documented as an action item and usually assigned to someone, usually a member of the group. The person to whom the action is assigned is then obligated to perform the action and report back to the group on the results.
Action items are usually documented in the meeting minutes and are recorded in the task list of the group. As people complete action items, the items are documented as being completed and the item is removed from the list of outstanding action items”
IS THAT A REASONABLE DESCRIPTION OF AN EFFICIENT WAY OF PROCEEDING? (Do decide whether it IS reasonable before reading any further. It’s how we’ve operated for years when chairing formal meetings.)
So, what has this got to do with Camberley – or, more precisely, with Surrey Heath? Well, for quite a few months we’ve been aware of a group within the council called the ‘Camberley Town Centre Future Management Working Group’. We know what its aims are, and the identity of the participating councillors. But we don’t know what it’s actually doing. However, at its meeting on 1st March, the council executive agreed that “The Notes of the meeting of the Camberley Town Centre Future Management Working Group of 8 December 2015 and 12 January 2016 be made public”. That was about eight weeks ago – surely more than long enough to post a couple of documents on a website?.
But – and you can see where this is leading – we can’t find any trace of those working group minutes. Indeed, entering ‘Town Centre Future Management Working Group’ into the council website’s search box produces precisely nothing. (As usual, it’s better to ignore the website search box and go straight to Google.). Google finds several related documents – but no minutes of the working group. So we strongly suspect that the executive’s decision has never been followed through. Which isn’t a surprise at all; most of Wikipedia’s guidance about running efficient meetings hasn’t been followed. The action to publish the minutes wasn’t allocated to anyone, and subsequent meetings haven’t – as far as we can tell – checked to make sure that the action has been carried out.
If we’re right, and the council can’t publish a couple of minutes efficiently, what chance is there that it can manage something important like regenerating the town centre? Near enough zero, we suspect.