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Scrutiny Explained

 

Introduction

The Local Government Act 2000 required all Councils in England and Wales to introduce new political structures which provide a clear role for the Council, the Executive and Non-Executive Councillors. One of the key roles that was introduced for Non-Executive Councillors is to undertake an overview and scrutiny function for the Council.

The scrutiny function is a process to check that Tameside residents receive the best possible services from the Council and its partners. It aims to improve those services by monitoring the work and making recommendations on the way services are provided. It also has specific responsibilities to provide a scrutiny function for local NHS Trusts and crime and disorder.

Scrutiny in Tameside

In Tameside there are two Scrutiny Panels made up of Local Councillors. There are 57 elected Councillors in Tameside, 6 Councillors are portfolio holders and form the Executive Cabinet. While the Executive makes all the Council’s decisions within the budget and policy framework set by full Council, it is the scrutiny function that provides the checks and balances in the political structure. A member of Cabinet is not allowed to sit on a scrutiny panel.

The Scrutiny Panels are responsible for looking at Council policies, procedures and services, as well as looking at the Council’s partnership work with other agencies. They look at what is working well and what further improvements can be made.

The overview and scrutiny role involves:-

  • Holding the Executive to Account
    This involves scrutinising decisions of the Executive at different stages of the decision-making process: before decisions are made; before they are implemented; and after they are implemented.
  • Policy Review
    Policy review involves the in-depth scrutinising of existing Council policies to examine intended policy outcomes and whether these outcomes are being achieved.
  • Review of Council Services
    This involves scrutiny reviewing Council services to ensure they are achieving customer satisfaction and value for money together with monitoring Council performance and ensuring standards are met.
  • External Scrutiny
    External scrutiny involves scrutinising the work and impact of external agencies on a Council's community eg. local NHS Trusts, crime and disorder and other partners.

Scrutiny does not make policy decisions, this is the responsibility of the Executive but can make recommendations to the appropriate Executive Cabinet member.

The diagram below outlines the two Scrutiny Panels and the Cabinet Portfolioss.

 

Development of Scrutiny Panel Annual Work Programmes

At the beginning of every municipal year each scrutiny panel agrees to an annual work programme. The topics that are included in the work programme may be drawn from a number of sources including:-

  • Suggestions from the Executive
  • Suggestions from elected Members
  • Resident’s Opinion Survey
  • Citizens Panel
  • People and Place Scorecard
  • District Assemblies
  • Members of the public

Scoping a Review and Preparing a Project Plan

Once a scrutiny panel has selected a topic for review from the annual work programme, work is then undertaken to determine:-

  • The aim of the review
  • Objectives – in order to meet the aim
  • Detailed actions to be undertaken to meet the objectives
  • Equalities issues
  • Value for money/efficiencies
  • Anticipated timescale

Information and Evidence

The review process usually takes place over several meetings where panel members meet with a variety of stakeholders. Once scrutiny panel members have assessed all the information and evidence received, the scrutiny panel report will be drafted based on the information received during the course of the review. Conclusions and recommendations will be agreed by members of the scrutiny panel for inclusion in the report.

Response from the Executive

A meeting will take place with the relevant Executive Member who will provide a response to the recommendations detailed in the report and what actions are proposed to implement the recommendations. The Executive Member will attend the next available scrutiny panel meeting to present the responses to the panel’s recommendations along with the final report.

The report will receive comments and observations from the Borough Treasurer and Borough Solicitor with regards to financial and legal implications. The report will then be presented to the Overview (Audit) Panel by the scrutiny panel Chair and relevant Executive Member.

Centre for Public Scrutiny

The Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) has been created to promote the value of scrutiny in modern and effective government - not only to hold Executives to account but also to create a constructive dialogue between the public and its elected representatives - to improve the quality of public services.

A guide to good scrutiny has been published by the CfPS and sets out four principles for good scrutiny as:

  • Providing 'critical friend' challenge to Executives as well as external authorities and agencies
  • Reflecting the voice and concerns of the public and its communities
  • Taking the lead and own scrutiny process on behalf of the public
  • Making an impact on the delivery of public services

Have Your Say

Tameside's Scrutiny Panels want to engage with the people of Tameside and find out your views on services that the Council and other organisations provide. You can have your say and suggest a topic that you believe needs investigating. Topics should relate to a service, event or issue that the Council has a significant stake in, or which the Council has an influence over.
 

Contact Information
Contact by Post

Scrutiny
Tameside MBC
Council Offices
Dukinfield Town Hall
King Street
Dukinfield
Tameside
Contact by Telephone
0161 342 2199
Contact by Fax
0161 342 2747

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