The views were expressed after I had asked for clarification on the basis for the emotive language used in the report on changing the set up for task and finish forums.

The officer who was the author of the report said that she felt that members of the public watching the scrutiny function in those two task forums could have thought that the “credibility of the scrutiny function was undermined.”

She said that she was “unhappy” that members had persisted in bringing in other factors which were “irrelevant” or “not constitutional.”

The officer continued that she was “very unhappy” to see all the work she had undertaken to improve the scrutiny function “knocked back to where it was before.”

It was obvious that the comments were aimed at me (and to a lesser degree, Roger Giles) so I reminded the committee of the background to the Business task group and how widespread the concern was on the significant influence of the developers on East Devon Business Forum, over the local plan.

I added that the council – time after time, refused to investigate the issue.  I said that if anything, the council had brought ITSELF into disrepute, by refusing to act on legitimate public concern. The scrutiny committee was set up to investigate areas of public concern yet the council had refused to act on it.

I said that the language used was “blatantly unfair” and proposed that a degree of neutrality should be injected into it.

But several committee members said that they agreed with the officer’s view.

So the loaded and unjust language remained in the report.

The recommendations to change the way in which task groups operate will be referred to a think tank.