Overview and Scrutiny panel

Page last updated at 26 August 2016 at 13:51

Overview and Scrutiny Panel  

Public scrutiny is an essential part of ensuring that government remains effective and accountable.  Public scrutiny can be defined as the activity by one elected or appointed organisation or office examining and monitoring all or part of the activity of a public sector body with the aim of improving the quality of public services.  A public sector body is one that carries out public functions or spends public money.  Scrutiny ensures that executives are held accountable for their decisions, that their decision-making process is clear and accessible to the public and that there are opportunities for the public and their representatives to influence and improve public policy.

Public scrutiny is now moving into another era with community-led scrutiny of local decisions.  This is where the public’s involvement in challenging local authorities and public service providers on public service improvement and delivery is actively sought by elected representatives (such as MPs or councillors) or appointed non-executives on governing bodies (such as school governors or non-executive directors of hospital trusts).  Constructive and ongoing engagement with stakeholders, from experts to the general public, helps to achieve genuine accountability for the use of public resources.

Public scrutiny therefore provides a unique perspective on how well public services are being delivered and how they could be improved, from the point of view of those receiving and using those services.

(From: CfPS http://www.cfps.org.uk/practice-guide-an-introduction-to-scrutiny/ )

The Council will appoint one or more overview and scrutiny committees to discharge the functions conferred by section 9F of the Local Government Act 2000 or regulations under that Act. The number, size and composition of these committees will be determined by Council from time to time as it sees fit.

Council has agreed to appoint a Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel which has responsibility for the following areas, which are related to Cabinet lead responsibilities.

Policy and Performance - Environment, Transport and Streetscene, Customer Service, Health, Leisure, Housing, Communities, Economic Policy, Business and Skills, Planning, Prosperity, and Crime and Disorder.

Within the terms of reference, the Scrutiny Panel will:

(a) review and/or scrutinise decisions made or action taken in connection with the discharge of any of the Council's functions

(a)  (including executive functions);

(b)  make reports and/or recommendations to the Cabinet, Local Area Committees or the Council in connection with the discharge of any functions;

(c)  assist with policy development and budget evolution or other work; and

(d)  undertake work related to Best Value.

The full terms of reference are as follows:

(a)  To overview and scrutinise the decisions of the Cabinet and Local Area Committees.

(b)  The overview and scrutiny of policy implementation, and the effectiveness of policy in achieving objectives.

(c)  To review, on a regular basis, the contents of the Forward Plan;

(d)  To assist with policy development, and budget evolution or other work when requested by either the Cabinet or the Council.

(e)  In liaison with the Cabinet or relevant lead, to undertake efficiency and improvement work related to their theme areas.

(f)   To monitor the implementation of improvement plans arising from efficiency and improvement reviews related to their theme areas.

(g)  To make recommendations to the Cabinet, Local Area Committee or the Council in the light of (a) to (e).

(h)  To recommend to the Council that other policy development, overview or scrutiny work should be undertaken.

(i)    To scrutinise organisational performance related to theme areas, including the outcomes achieved and key performance indicators.

(j)    To liaise with other external organisations operating in the area to ensure that the interests of local people are enhanced by collaborative working.

In carrying out this role, the Scrutiny Panels will liaise with the lead Cabinet Member for its theme areas, and with Local Area Committee Chairs, to facilitate effective working relationships.

Proceedings of a Scrutiny Panel

The conduct of their proceedings at Scrutiny Panels will be in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules set out in Part 4 of the Constitution.

Crime and Disorder Overview and Scrutiny

The Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel has been designated as the Council’s crime and disorder overview and scrutiny committee, as set out in the Crime and Disorder (Overview and Scrutiny) Regulations 2009. The terms of reference for the Panel shall also include the following:

(a)          To review or scrutinise decisions made, or other action taken, in connection with the discharge by the responsible authorities of their crime and disorder functions;

(b)          To make reports or recommendations to the Council with respect to the discharge of those functions;

(c)          To have at least one meeting each municipal year to scrutinise crime and disorder matters; and

(d)          To co-opt members from the Eastleigh Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership should it wish to when reviewing certain projects/decisions.

Task and Finish Groups

Where appropriate, Scrutiny Panels will be encouraged to use time limited Task and Finish Groups to carry out detailed work on specific topics or issues.

Members are appointed to Task and Finish Groups based on their interest, either on the issue or as a representative of a relevant ward, and personal knowledge or expertise.

The Groups will be Member led, and conduct their business on an informal basis. They have no decision-making powers, but aid the policy development of the Council by examining important issues and preparing ideas and recommendations for consideration.

Related Links

Centre for Public Scrutiny