The Scrutiny Committee will be setting out its aims as well as a draft work programme at its meeting on Tuesday July 14th.
This extract from the report to be considered at the meeting gives details of the Committee's approach:
3.1 Scrutiny activities will be led and co-ordinated by the Scrutiny Committee. This Committee will meet up to 10 times during the year. The Committee consists of fourteen members comprising eight Councillors, four voting education co-opted members and two non-voting co-opted members. The voting co-opted members only have voting rights in relation to education functions.
3.2 The Scrutiny Committee will:
• hold the Cabinet to account for its decisions.
•contribute to strategy development through scrutiny of key policy documents and make comments on these to the Cabinet.
•support policy development through commissioning Member-led investigations of issues affecting the community or borough.
• provide scrutiny of external public bodies and services, including education,
health and other partners as specified by the Localism Act, 2011
• coordinate activities with other local bodies charged with scrutiny functions , for example, Healthwatch, tenant scrutiny, Brent’s Safe r Neighbourhood Board and the regional Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee.
• review and monitor performance to ensure continuous improvement.
• receive call-in of Cabinet decisions, public petitions and community calls to action.
3.3 The Council has a number of statutory responsibilities with regard to scrutiny of local bodies which will be built into the work programme of the committee during the year, particularly concerning health and police services.
Appendix A sets out the terms of reference for the Scrutiny Committee, these are set out in the constitution of the council.
3.4 The Committee will be able to establish time limited task and finish groups which will focus on particular topics or issues of local concern. Through these time-limited reviews of local issues and services, scrutiny activities will not be limited to the members of the Committee. Rather all non-cabinet M embers can and should participate. These scrutiny reviews will also create opportunities for a broad range of organisations, stakeholders and the public in Brent to get involved in the work of scrutiny.
3.5 The Scrutiny Committee may undertake external scrutiny of other organisations that provide local services such as education. The council has a statutory power to scrutinise local health provision and also crime and disorder functions. This can be achieved by requesting information from other public agencies or by asking them to attend a meeting of the Committee for questions. M embers can also investigate any issue that is affecting local communities or the borough. External scrutiny is an area in which real value can be added, enabling Members to explore issues of public concern and take the lead on behalf of their community.
3.6 The Scrutiny Committee will therefore:
• develop an annual work programme based on genuine public participation and feed back from elected Members on local priorities.
• work closely with other local bodies and groups charged with scrutiny functions
• monitor and challenge performance and the use of resources both internally and externally
• make evidence-based recommendations to improve the work of the Council and other partner organisations
•scrutinise decisions and develop policy both in respect of the Council and external organisations
• scrutinise the Council’s budget, particularly at the pre-decision stage
• deal with call-in and pre-decision scrutiny
•commission in-depth reviews to be carried out by task and finish groups and to be brought back to the Committee for consideration
• produce an annual report on its work showing, in particular, the impact of the work of the Committee in improving outcomes for local people
• bring different agencies together to broker solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
3.7 Scrutiny provides councillors with the opportunity to question Cabinet Members, officers and others in order to gain knowledge around an issue and make effective, evidenced-based recommendations. It also enables Members to capture the views of their constituents to provide community leadership.
The principles of effective scrutiny are:
• being Member-led
The Scrutiny Committee determines its own work programme and decides what evidence to seek. Members take an active role in t he scrutiny process, for example by going on visits, taking part in consultation activities with service users, residents and discussions with local organisations.
• a consensual approach
Effective scrutiny works towards developing a consensus-based view of the service or issue under consideration, focused on the needs of service users and residents.
• it is evidence based
Scrutiny should take evidence from a wide and balanced range of sources in order to develop a rounded view of the issues under consideration.
Recommendations made by scrutiny should be firmly supported by the evidence gathered.
• provide constructive challenge
Good scrutiny should foster a style of constructive challenge with officers and other witnesses, enabling sharing of views in an open and positive manner.
2015-16 Work Programme LINK
2014-15 Key Comments, Recommendations and Actions LINK