Terms of Reference for Overview and Scrutiny
To note the relevant sections of the council constitution relating to Overview and Scrutiny.
Nabihah Hassan-Farooq, Scrutiny Officer, explained to Members that in June 2019 the findings of the Constitution Working Group moved to amalgamate seven Overview and Scrutiny Panels to just four, and that the Panels would no longer follow the Cabinet report cycle. She added that as per the Council’s Constitution, as required by Law, the Council has designated a statutory Scrutiny Officer whose functions are to promote the role of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panels, to provide support to them and their Members and provide support and guidance to Council Members and Officers generally about the functions of the Overview and Scrutiny Panels.
Overview and Scrutiny Panels had powers to establish Task and Finish Groups and agree items to be added to the Forward Plan or Work Programme of those Overview and Scrutiny Panels. There were only four meetings for the Infrastructure Overview & Scrutiny Panel scheduled in for the municipal year 2019/20 but, they had the authority to schedule more meetings in as and when required.
The Scrutiny Officer informed Members that there was no budget for the Overview and Scrutiny function but, the Work Progamme was robust and flexible with some items added that were constitutional items which had to be included. A feedback form was being circulated to residents in the Borough to gauge what items they would like to see added to the Work Programme and that feedback form formed part A7 of the Constitution. Members could also suggest items and A7.5 of the Constitution explained that in more detail.
In terms of scope of the Overview and Scrutiny Panels, Members had a role in development so there would be training sessions set up for Members to attend in July 2019 and if further training was required, Members could approach the Scrutiny Officer who would look into that and made arrangements where necessary. The Scrutiny Officer stated that Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel would determine which Panels would receive reports where reports overlapped into more than one area.
The Chairman stated it was important to scrutinise policy a long time before it reached the stage where a decision was made, so that Overview and Scrutiny Panels were able to provide input on items and inform the best possible outcomes. The Panel had an opportunity to take a broad view of the Work Programme and it was important to focus on strategic elements so that strategic decisions were made in the best way possible.
Councillor Da Costa stated he wanted more training as a group with presentations from relevant heads of service to explain the aspirations of their service areas for the next two years and how that fits with their budgets. The Chairman responded when looking at broader areas, they could start with a sub group where a specific subject would have the head of service or lead officer in attendance and they could explain their service area. Councillor Da Costa responded a specific item might not appear on the Work Programme for a long time, he felt something was needed now; although he understood that the Scrutiny Officer was looking into options. The Scrutiny Officer suggested looking at specific areas of training if officer resources were available and then go back to Members via email with potential options.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Terms of Reference were noted.