Agenda item

Presentation on the Role of Scrutiny

A presentation will be made. The current terms of reference for this Scrutiny Committee are attached.



The Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support referred to the important role of scrutiny within the Council’s democratic process in acting as a critical friend for the Authority and enabling the 26 Members who made up the two Scrutiny Committees to be able to contribute to the Council’s policies and procedures.


Members were reminded of the approach within the Authority:-


  • Scrutiny Committee Members had the opportunity to address and scrutinise the decisions being taken by the Executive by attending the meetings as well as initiating a call-in of Executive decisions, provided it met one of the four criteria set out in the Council’s Constitution.
  • questions could be put forward to Portfolio Holders on their particular spheres of responsibility within the Council with a standard format to highlight the ongoing programme of work, service delivery, financial performance and other matters on the portfolio has been developed. It was noted that this format would be used for the Portfolio Holder reports going forward to the next cycle of Scrutiny Committees.
  • a Forward Plan of business for the Executive for the future period was published and offered the opportunity for a particular matter to be brought forward through a more collegiate approach through scrutiny,via the Scrutiny Programme Board.
  • the opportunity existed for Members to suggest a Task and Finish Group or Spotlight Review to raise particular items of interest or urgency. Members of the Scrutiny Programme Board had also developed a proforma for Members to make such requests which is shared with the Strategic Management Board and the Scrutiny Programme Board for determination and timetabling against other requests that may come forward.

·         a forthcoming meeting of the Governance Review Board would ensure that the Council continued to improve on recent changes made, which included promoting greater public access with public speaking permitted at Council and the Executive meetings.


The Corporate Manager Democratic Services and Civic Support referred to the example of scrutiny working which had been very evident at this evening’s meeting both from the detailed questions to Portfolio Holders, pertinent questions on the reports and from that an additional recommendation for a time limited Standing Overview Group to facilitate a way forward for a key matter for the Council.  He also

responded to the following Member’s comments: -


  • the Forward Plan offered an opportunity both internally and externally to identify future business and whether it was appropriate for additional discussion at Scrutiny, via a request to the Scrutiny Programme Board, before the matter was discussed at the Executive. There was also the opportunity to place an item of business directly on the Scrutiny agenda.

·         the appointment of Chairs and Deputy Chairs were made as the result of nominations made at the Annual Council meeting, voted en bloc as a Council decision. There had been opposition Chairs of Scrutiny Committee and whilst this could be a matter for discussion in the future, such appointments remained a Council decision.

·         lockdown had offered an opportunity to broadcast meetings via zoom, but face to face meetings required an individual recording with a member of the Communications Team present at the meetings. Currently only the decision making meetings of Council, the Executive and Planning Committee were recorded. Members of the public were able to attend all Committee meetings, including Scrutiny Committees and the agendas were published well in advance of the meetings. The Chair made a request for officers to explore a cost effective way of broadcasting these meetings and it was confirmed that the Governance Review Board will be asked to consider any future plans to broadcast meetings of Scrutiny.


The Chair reiterated that the Governance Review Board was particularly committed to strengthening scrutiny along the lines that have been outlined this evening. He referred to the approach which included cross party working and promoting inclusivity. At the Chair’s invitation, Councillor Vizard, as Chair of the Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee echoed the opportunities for cross party working, ensuring an open and transparent process and encouraging Members to come forward with topics for discussion.


Members noted the update.


Supporting documents: