Overview and Scrutiny (more commonly known as "scrutiny") is a statutory function and helps to ensure that local public services are delivered effectively, efficiently and in the best interests of residents. It is an important mechanism through which public accountability can be exercised. Scrutiny has wide ranging powers to investigate areas of local interest.
To assist investigations scrutiny can question decision takers, call in expert witnesses or hear evidence from other local stakeholders (eg local residents, businesses or community groups). Investigations are not restricted to Council run services, as any area of interest to the local community may be investigated by scrutiny councillors. All Councillors (except Cabinet Members) can participate in the scrutiny of the Council and its partners.
The Council has five scrutiny committees which carry out the statutory scrutiny function.
There is no single definition of Scrutiny; it therefore should be viewed as an umbrella term covering a wide range of possible roles. However, the key legislative roles are: -
Above all, the process needs to be firmly focused on both matters of importance and in making a difference, as these elements are key to scrutiny reaching its potential and being of value to the Council and to local people.
The scrutiny process provides the opportunity for Councillors and Co-opted members to:-
Each of the five Scrutiny Committees sets its own annual work programme to review policies, decisions and services of the Council and other organisations operating in the County Borough to ensure they meet the needs of local communities. The Committees have agreed their work programmes and will be considering the items and issues as shown in the document at their meetings over the coming twelve months or so.
Some key principles Councillors considered when they prepared the work programmes include: topics should add value and support corporate priorities; where appropriate involve partners, stakeholders and the public; allow some flexibility to enable topics to be included as they arise; seek improvement in service provision; and be achievable within available resources.
Scrutiny Committees have arrangements to allow people who live or work in the local authority area to make representations on any matter being discussed. There are many different ways you may wish to get involved in the work of scrutiny, including:
You could also apply to become a co-opted member on one of the council's Scrutiny Committees. As a co-opted member you will participate on one of the Council's Scrutiny Committees with elected Councillors and other co-opted members. You will use your skills and knowledge of issues and services within the county borough to add to the discussion and debate.
There is no salary or allowance for the role, but reimbursements are made for reasonable travel expenses.
This Scrutiny Good Practice Guide is useful for Councillors and Co-opted members and also includes information for Council officers attending scrutiny meetings. There is also information for outside organisations and individual members of the public who are invited to attend a scrutiny meeting. The guide explains the role of scrutiny and also what you can expect when you attend a meeting, amongst other things.