County councillors should be meeting tomorrow (Weds 13) to discuss and ask questions about Kent County Council's action plan that sets out how it intends to deal with the damning Ofsted report into child protection services.
They should be but they won't. The meeting has been cancelled. Not, however, because the issue is not considered important enough and not because the committee didn't think it was worth it.
In fact, the committee - at least the opposition members on it - very much wanted to debate the Improvement Board plan and hear what KCC leaders and officers had to say.
But it seems the cabinet scrutiny committee meeting has fallen foul of a constiutional hiccup, the kind of thing that gives bureaucrats a bad name.
Here is what has happened. Back in 2010, the then cabinet member responsible Cllr Sarah Hohler and the now ex-director of children's services Rosalind Turner made a commitment that the cabinet scrutiny committee would be able to debate and comment on the draft improvement plan before it was finalised.
The problem is that the draft plan is no longer a draft. It has been finalised. So, as a rather apologetic email sent to members of the cabinet scrutiny committee records: "The offers made by Rosalind Turner and Sarah Hohler on 8 December to submit the Improvement Plan back to the Committee for further consideration before being finalised unfortunately no longer apply, since the Plan is no longer available in draft form for such consideration."
Not only that, but KCC says that technically speaking, the final report has not yet been sent to the cabinet for rubber-stamping and scrutiny committees aren't allowed to scrutinise anything that hasn't.
So, cabinet scrutiny can take a look at it next month but even if they do, they won't be in a position to suggest any amendments or possible improvements, as the report is no longer a draft but a final version and "is not capable of further revision."
Not surprisingly, this has gone down like a lead balloon with the opposition parties who have questioned exactly what the purpose of scrutiny is if there's nothing they ca ndo in any case. Meanwhile, council leader Paul Carter says it is important that due process is followed.
The action plan may still get scrutinised but by the time it is, rather a long time will have passed since Ofsted first came calling on KCC to deliver its highly-critical report.
No wonder some people have described scrutiny committees as toothless watchdogs and that the checks and balances in the system of cabinet government are weighted heavily in favour of the decision makers who run things.
I have become quite accustomed to responses by KCC to Freedom of Information requests that begin with an apology for failing to meet the 20-day deadline.
In fact, I can't think of a recent one that didn't - one I submitted in early November last year was finally replied to nearly three months later.
So it's not a major surprise to learn that the Information Commissioner has listed the county council as one he intends to monitor over the next few months because they are, in his view, taking too long to respond to enough requests in time.
KCC says that it receives double the number of requests monthly than other authorities and its response rates are not far off other counties and unitaries. fair enough. But if it is having to deal with twice as many requests as other councils, I'm afraid that is not a good indicator of an authority that is pro-active when it comes to publication of information.
If KCC was to give greater thought to how it might routinely publish more information - not data - it might find it has fewer requests to deal with.
And fewer occasions when it fails to meet the 20-day deadline.