Thursday 29 May 2014

Scrutinising Brent's Scrutiny Proposals

A Wembley Matters reader has given the proposals on new scrutiny arrangements a little scrutiny and found them wanting. Fiona Ledden's proposal is that Brent should have just one Overview & Scrutiny Committee to replace the current five,

In her report Fiona Ledden writes:
“Five committees is a considerably higher number than most other London councils have following a random survey”
This is illogical. A random survey of how many London Boroughs? A higher number than most other London Boroughs we randomly surveyed? A higher number than most of the 32 London Boroughs? How many other London Boroughs are making do with one OSC? What sort of Boroughs are they that are doing that?

Here are 17 London boroughs. They all have more permanent OSC bodies than Brent is proposing,. All bar one has three or more OSCs and the only that comes close is Ealing, which has an OSC ansd a Standing Commitee on Health.

The overview & scrutiny committee (OSC) is the main co-ordinating scrutiny body.  It appoints three scrutiny sub-committees and is responsible for their overall management:

Three of the scrutiny committees mirror the three service directorates, one covers health scrutiny and the fifth will look at corporate resources, performance and policy together with covering the central departments.
Committee membership
Lambeth council has six scrutiny committees: the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which oversees and co-ordinates the work of the sub-committees and the scrutiny function in general; and five cross-cutting sub-committees, which cover issues arising from all our services.

The Council has an overarching Overview and Scrutiny Committee which is made up of five non-Cabinet Councillors as well as statutory and non statutory co-optees. Councillors sitting on the Committee reflect the political balance of the Council.  The Committee is supported in its work by four standing scrutiny panels:
  • Adults and Health Scrutiny Panel
  • Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel
  • Communities Scrutiny Panel
  • Environment and Housing Scrutiny Panel
Scrutiny panels are made up of between 3 and 7 councillors who are not members of the Cabinet, are chaired by members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and membership is politically proportional.

The Overview & Scrutiny Committee (OSC) coordinates the work of the 6 Scrutiny Panels. Made up of the 6 Chairmen and chaired by the Members and Democratic Services Group Chairman, OSC ensures that the Scrutiny function in Enfield operates smoothly, and organises references from the various panels.

Scrutiny panels
We have three scrutiny panels that oversee the service areas of council business. These are  coordinated by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
From time to time, we set up task and finish scrutiny panels to look into specific issues of concern to scrutiny members. These can be service areas or more general policy areas of relevance to the community. Each task and finish panel is set up just to look at one issue, then disbanded.
Select a panel below to get more information about meeting dates, agendas and reports.

Standing scrutiny panels  

Ealing – one OSC but a standing panel on health
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is able to set up review panels to consider specific issues. The review panels have a fixed term and have to work to an agreed programme.

Standing panel

Health and Adults Social Services This panel is responsible for scrutinising health services in the borough, as well as the council’s provision of social services for adults. The panel recently considered proposed reforms of hospitals across North West London (the Shaping a Healthier Future programme) as well as the merger of Ealing Hospital Trust with North West London Hospitals Trust, and proposals for reforms to dementia services.

Overview and scrutiny board
Made up of the chairs and vice-chairs of the commissions, the overview and scrutiny board coordinates the function and runs special projects to scrutinise council performance.

Scrutiny commissions

Children and young people

We look at all services for children and young people, including those provided by the Hackney Learning Trust and social services.

Community safety and social inclusion

We review issues of crime and community safety. We also look at support for the voluntary sector, community cohesion and adult learning.

Governance and resources

We review the way the council operates, including how the budget is prepared and agreed.

Health in Hackney

We look at all health services, adult social care and services for older people.

Living in Hackney

We have a remit for all housing issues, as well as leisure and culture, planning, sustainability, waste and street cleanliness.

At the London Borough of Barnet, there are four Overview and Scrutiny Committees, each with their own Terms of Reference, which sets out their responsibilities and power. These Committees are:  

 Scrutiny in Islington

Reviewing decisions

The Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee is the council’s main scrutiny committee.  It coordinates the work of the council's four scrutiny review committees and can play an important role in reviewing decisions made by the Executive. If five or more councillors request such a review, the committee can call in a decision made by the Executive before it is implemented and consider if the decision should be recommended back to the Executive for further consideration. If the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee considers that the Executive's decision does not follow the council's policy or budgetary framework, it can refer the decision to a meeting of full Council

The structure of Overview and Scrutiny at Merton consists of three scrutiny panels and an Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

The three panels each have individual areas of responsibility whilst the Commission supports the panels, oversees the development and delivery of the annual work programme and co-ordinates cross-cutting reviews and responses.

Scrutiny arrangements differ from council to council. We have an overarching Overview and Scrutiny Committee and five scrutiny commissions:
Overview and Scrutiny Committees
We have four Overview and Scrutiny Committees, which meet at least six times a year:

Three committees

Health, Social Care and Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee

Scrutiny and Strategic Overview Committee

Children and Young People Scrutiny Sub-Committee

Hammersmith & Fulham
The four Scrutiny Committees are: 
  • Education and Children's Services Select Committee
  • Transport, Environment and Residents Services Select Committee
  • Housing, Health And Adult Social Care Select Committee
  • Overview & Scrutiny Board
Overview & Scrutiny
Public Accounts Select Committee
Health & Communities Select Committee
Sustainable Develoment Select Committee
Children and  Yoing Persons Select Committee
Housing Select Committee
Safter & Stronger Communities Select Committee


Anonymous said...

Interesting Lewisham has elected Mayor and yet has 7 committees to debate and review decisions.

It seems this is another power grab by Gilbert, Davani and Ledden with little ability to challenge their decisions.

This also paves the way for EmailGate to be buried and the infamous shall we call it "CoplandGate."

Anonymous said...

So the assertion in justification of her first post-election proposal, (and which claims to be based on genuine data and takes for granted our trust in the integrity which should be presupposed from her position and responsibility), turns out, in fact, to be bullshit.
Great start, Ms Ledden. And Mr Butt. And the rest of you.
UKIP supporters may be extremely deluded about the solution, but they're certainly spot on about the problem.
Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

Exactly why disenfranchised voters are moving to UKIP as people distrust the main parties to look after our interests.

May consider UKIP if Barry Gardiner does not immediately pull Brent Labour into line.

So much for your words soon after the election MP for Brent North !

Brent Labour appear to have not noticed your statement, as the bureaucrats are pushing ahead regardless.

Anonymous said...

Who needs scrutiny committees when we have Wembley Matters?
Cllr M Butt

Cllr Muhammed Butt said...

Who needs scrutiny committees when we have Wembley Matters. Lol.

claremounties said...

Fiona Ledden seems to have missed the obvious issue here. Brent Council NEEDS MORE SCRUTINY than any other Borough!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused, Martin. Is one, none, or all of these Butts an imposter? Do you allow posts under false names? How do you tell who is real and who isn't?

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Sarah Cox said...

I have attended meetings of the Health Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee and found that under the leadership of Cllr Mary Daley whose NHS and Trade Union experience is invluable, the committee has begun to perform a really important role in scrutinising decisions of the CCG, the hospital trusts and their relation to the Council's Public Health and Social Care responsibilities. Doing away with this committee would be a grave dereliction of duty and a disservice to the community, in spite of the fantastic job done by Wembley Matters.

Toby Chambers said...

Costs Savings ?

By reducing scrutiny and reducing the ability to debate key issues, "GroupThink," is the result ?

"Groupthink," is a phenomenon that occurs when the desire for group consensus overrides people's common sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion. Here, the desire for group cohesion effectively drives out good decision-making and problem solving.

"GroupThink," is exactly why Brent needs greater scrutiny. We have seen many examples of decisions taken in the past few years that have polarized the community, as local views are rarely considered, resulting in poor long term decisions.

Surely Brent Council should be moving towards, "Collaborative decision making," rather than this lurch towards a top down approach ?

Martin Francis said...

There is a limit to my investigative powers but second entry was in name of Cllr Butt and probably re-sent when first was not published t. I took it as a tongue in cheek comment and whatever his faults Cllr Butt does have a sense of humour. Joking asides when we have bumped into each other indicate that he is a Wembley Matters reader.

Sarah Cox said...

The abolition of the Health Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee - the one I have attended and advised others to attend - would severely damage the ability of the Council which has responsibility for Adult Social Care and Public Health to integrate these services with those provide by the NHS locally. Expertly chaired by Cllr Mary Daly whose experience means that she really knows what she's talking about, the committee provides a forum where the CCG and Hospital Trusts explain themselves in language patients and citizens can understand and where their decisions can be scrutinised. CCGs are new bodies, struggling with responsibility for commissioning services on a limited budget and subject to pressure from bodies like Shaping a Healthier Future which are backed by PR firms. These committees are immensely important to local democracy and accountability and in the case of the Children's Services and Health Partnerships OSCs exist to safeguard the interests of vulnerable members of our community - children and patients.

Anonymous said...

Our Corporate Boardrooms are now full of what you term GroupThink.

Brent seems to be going down this corporatized route and I do not like the sound of it.

Meg Howarth said...

Scrutiny of 'EmailGate' important (Anon 29 May 22.08) - why did it take five months before some specific information was passed to the police? Who decided what was handed over? Why did it take Cllr Butt's intervention before the NFIB agreed to re-open its inquiry...?

claremounties said...

"Fiona is the council's monitoring officer and is responsible for promoting high standards of probity and conduct within the council." Ahem... Continuing to make the Brent bed for us all to lie in; the preferential 'tried and tested ' operational method Is to apply a Procrustean Solution! In addition, any policy (in order to be legally robust) ought to be based on sound demonstrable information and principal ; not 'RANDOM SURVEYS'! IMHO

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they should have looked at the Centre for Public Scrutiny's annual survey results - as that is not random and is the best reflection of scrutiny structures available.

Nan Tewari said...

Brent NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is yet another secretive public body that needs looking into. In this regard, it is highly compatible with Brent Council. Patient representatives are constantly given the runaround and as soon as it appears that patient reps are getting to the bottom of an issue and challenging CCG decisions and methodology, lo and behold, the CCG decides to change its patient involvement structures.

claremounties said...

What exactly does " 'Manages' the Democratic Services Team" entail? Is that an oxymoron?

Anonymous said...

Hope you don't consider UKIP for too long. It may hurt when our Paso Doble moves are laughed at by every girl we've ever loved, but it would be an overreaction to take up bestiality and morris dancing as a consequence.
Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

If patient representation was ever intended to change anything, they wouldn't let you have it.

Anonymous said...

Can I suggest that someone takes it upon themselves to make a deputation to the meeting at which these changes will be debated. If nothing else, it's important that the false info/random survey on which they are based is debunked for the nonsense it is. Some real resident concern about democracy might also flush out who, if any, of the new councillors are prepared to stick their head above the parapet.

Martin Francis said...

Ah, but officers argue that the current constitution makes no provision for a deputation. This was what caused the disruption on January 20th which led to Michaell Calderbank being banned from the local election count. The new Council will be voting on the proposal to allow deputations at this Council meeting which would allow deputations at future meetings. Mind you the deputation would be criticising the report by Fiona Ledden and Fiona Ledden will be the person deciding on whether the delegation should be allowed...

Anonymous said...

My head just spun off