The Liberal Democrat Group have tabled an a constitutional amendment for Wednesday's Council AGM aimed at improving the independence of Scrutiny in the Labour council:
Effective Scrutiny in Brent
The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee investigated the issue of “effective scrutiny” during the 2017/19 Parliamentary term.
Their remit of their work is in the title of the report they produced, “Effectiveness of local authors Scrutiny and Overview Committees”.
The Committee report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/369/369.pdf
Discussed and expressed views on a number of topics including:
Importance of Council culture and attitude to Scrutiny
Appointment of Chairs
Resources for Scrutiny
Reporting of Scrutiny findings & recommendations
One of the key conclusions was that Scrutiny should be as independent of the Executive as possible and the fact that this independence should be both real and visible.
Councillors can read the House Commons Report and come to their own conclusions.
To safeguard the effectiveness and independence of the Brent Scrutiny Committees we propose the following changes to the Brent Council Constitution:
- Reports of the Scrutiny Committees and Task Groups are reported to the Full Council (and not to the Executive) and if decisions are required these are taken by a vote of all Councillors present.
- To ensure that individual Scrutiny Committees are not overloaded and more able to cope with the required workload. The Council will establish a Scrutiny Committee to mirror the Departmental Structure of the organisation to cover the work and responsibilities of each of the Executive Directors including the Chief Executive. If this structure is achieved the Chairs of these Scrutiny Committees will be shared between all the Groups on the Council with every Opposition Group being allocated at least one Committee to Chair.
- To emphasise the independence of Scrutiny from the Executive the Chairs of Scrutiny will come from the Opposition Groups (rather than being selected the Executive or the Majority Group) and either shared between the Opposition Groups or voted on at a Full Council meeting.