Management Response to the Review of Scrutiny Arrangements
The Director of Corporate Services and Governance presented a report which responded to the recommendations of a review of current scrutiny arrangements.
In May 2016 the council adopted a single overview and scrutiny committee, combining the responsibilities of the previous services and resources committees. Members had agreed to review the new arrangements six months after the new arrangements had been introduced.
Councillor Howard, as chair of the review team, presented the recommendations to Cabinet. He explained that the team had considered in detail the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to council’s scrutiny arrangements. Members were keen that the overview and scrutiny work programme reflects issues of local concern. The team considered examples of good practice from other authorities and changes to working practices which may help to increase the capacity of members and officers. The review team were also keen that overview and scrutiny members explore links with other groups within the council, such as the member training and development group.
The management response recommended that overview and scrutiny members reconsider their proposals in respect of the management response arrangements, as it was considered the present suggestion may not allow for sufficient collective debate.
Councillor Poole proposed approval of the recommendations to the Director of Corporate Services and Governances report, which was seconded by Councillor Fitzgerald.
RESOLVED (unanimously) that:
1. Cabinet thank the scrutiny team for their report and recommendations
2. Cabinet accept the following scrutiny review recommendations:
a. That existing Scrutiny arrangements are continued and this report is forwarded to the Leaders of both political parties as a basis for further discussions in specific relation to the capacity issues identified.
b. That Democratic Services draft more detailed roles and responsibilities in relation to key committees starting with Scrutiny. Setting these roles and responsibilities out may assist in the selection of Members for associated committees prior to appointment, ensuring clarity on the demands of the role and key responsibilities.
c. That the Scrutiny Chair meet with the Member Training and Development Group Chair in advance of setting the next work programme to explore opportunities for shared updates and associated training.
d. Scrutiny committee and all members receive a briefing covering: progress on taking a project management style approach to work planning, delivery and review to date and associated opportunities and challenges; and, an outline of tools available to assist in this approach and expectations around use and take up.
e. That Scrutiny consider the following ideas raised by the council’s senior managers as potential areas of focus for the 2017/18 Scrutiny work programme as set out in Appendix A to this report.
f. Scrutiny Steering Group to consider how we can apply examples of good practice from other authorities to the 2017/18 work programme, for example Inquiry Days*
*Inquiry Day: an inquiry day is a focussed, structured one-off event with presentations and group work. They can be attended by Councillors, community and partner representatives, other stakeholders and council officers to take an overview of a particular issue and provide a forum for questioning invited speakers and witnesses. After the inquiry, recommendations are drafted by the overview and scrutiny team before being sent to the relevant decision maker. This approach may address some of the capacity issues experienced recently, by holding the event on a single day. It would also provide scope to involve members from outside the scrutiny function, if appropriate
3. That recommendation g is not accepted in its current form and that O&S are asked to reconsider this in the light of the management response set out in paragraph 45 of the report
The reason for this decision was:
To submit and respond to the recommendations arising from the work undertaken by the scrutiny review team.