Members are invited to interview tier four Managers Claire Davies HR Manager, Geoff Caine Leisure Services Manager & Julia Hill, Environmental Policy & Services Manager regarding their experience supporting Scrutiny reviews.
Members received responses from 4th tier managers regarding their experience of supporting Scrutiny Reviews. Three of those 4th tier Managers were in attendance at the meeting including the Council’s HR Manager, Leisure Services Manager and Environmental Policy and Services Manager.
A number of issues and questions were raised and responses given by the officers including:
· Scrutiny was a Member led process, although often a presentation was given at the beginning of a review to ensure Members received a briefing on the matter of the review;
· The timing of involving the Service officers in the scrutiny reviews, ie during or after the scoping process of a review;
· As officers were aware of what was working and what was not in their service area they could be a source of suggestions for future scrutiny reviews;
· It was important for Members to have a base knowledge of information relating to an area to be scrutinised to ensure a review was effective. The more Councillors knew about a topic the better;
· Some recommendations from reviews were difficult to implement without having the resources available to support them, although it was agreed that resources would potentially not be forthcoming without these recommendations;
· There were a limited number of officers around the Council who had direct experience of scrutiny due to the involvement of mainly tier 4 managers and above;
· The original view of scrutiny was that it should be equal in importance to the Executive. In reality, this was not the case and could be frustrating if the Executive did not appear to give much importance to review outcomes. The process had now changed however and Executive Members were required to provide a response to scrutiny recommendations within a 2 month period. Recommendations were also now followed up after a longer period of time had elapsed;
· The question was asked regarding a possible return to the pre 2000 Committee system and if decision making would be more effective;
· Some recent scrutiny reviews had been effective and resulted in substantial changes to a service eg the review into damp and condensation;
· It was common in many other local authorities for the Chairs of scrutiny committees to be appointed from opposition groups. It was agreed that it would be more obviously independent if scrutiny Chairs were opposition Members, however the importance of the Chairs being independently minded whatever group they were from was paramount. The outcomes from a review should reflect this independence;
· Previously an all-day session with partners and voluntary and community groups had been arranged to come up with suggestions for subjects to review but this had proved to be time consuming and resource intensive. Now Members were encouraged to engage with these groups and bring back ideas during the work programming process;
In response to a question, the Scrutiny Officer agreed to recirculate his paper which summarised and addressed the main issues on the new Government Scrutiny Guidance. This would form part of an agenda for a future meeting.
It was RESOLVED:
That the 4th tier officers be thanked for their
attendance at the meeting;
That the responses circulated and the comments above be noted and
form part of the evidence gathering for the review;
That the Scrutiny Officer recirculate his paper summarising and
addressing the main issues on the new Government Scrutiny Guidance
to Members of the Committee and that the paper form part of the
agenda for the next meeting of the Committee.