OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY PROCEDURE RULES by hcj

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									 ALLERDALE BOROUGH COUNCIL




A Guide To
 Overview
    &
 Scrutiny
                                  CONTENTS
ALLERDALE BOROUGH COUNCIL OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY GUIDE


INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE                                                 3

WHAT IS OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY?
    An open, inclusive approach                                          3
    How does scrutiny fit in with the Council’s political arrangements   3

HOW DOES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY WORK?                                     3

      Meetings                                                           4
      Terms of Reference                                                 4
      Quorum                                                             5
      Chair                                                              5
      Work Programme                                                     5
      Agenda Items                                                       5
      Reports                                                            6
      Call In                                                            6
      Whip                                                               6
      Who decides what issues require scrutiny?                          6
      How does the review or investigation work?                         7
      Scrutinising external organisations                                8
      Evidence to support investigations                                 8
      What questions can and should Councillors ask?                     8
      What will successful Overview and scrutiny mean to Allerdale?      9

GUIDE FOR STAFF                                                          9
     Will I need to attend?                                              10
     What will I be asked?                                               10
     What feedback will I get after the meeting?                         10

GUIDE FOR WITNESSES                                                      11
     How can members of the public take part in overview and scrutiny
     committees and inquiries?                                           11
     Assistance for people with disabilities                             11
     What happens if I am asked to be a witness?                         12
            Written Evidence                                             12
            Oral Evidence                                                12
     How will the meeting room be set out?                               12




                                          2
INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE

The scrutiny function is central to the new constitution.

The Council has two Overview and Scrutiny committees which will perform all scrutiny
functions on behalf of the Council and support the work of the executive and the Council
as a whole.

This guide to the Overview and Scrutiny function explains the remit and the scope of the
Council’s overview and scrutiny committees, how the Membership is made up and how
they operate.

It is intended to provide guidance to:-

       Councillors serving on overview and scrutiny committees
       Officers working with or supporting overview and scrutiny committees
       Others who may be involved with or have an interest in the scrutiny process at
        Allerdale e.g. witnesses.

Further information can be obtained by e-mailing democraticservices@allerdale.gov.uk
or by phoning a member of the Scrutiny team on 01900 326340.

AN OPEN, INCLUSIVE APPROACH

In line with its open, inclusive approach, Overview and Scrutiny committees are active in
considering how they can be most effective, interesting and relevant to the people of
Allerdale.

Committees and sub groups will be flexible and creative, identifying what works – not
necessarily adopting the same approach to every review.

Although Overview and Scrutiny should be rigorous, it is not intended to be a ‘witch
hunt’ or to seek to apportion blame, scrutiny should enable Councillors (and officers) to
be inquisitive and to seek to understand the causes of poor performance so we can
identify ways of improving.

HOW DOES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY FIT IN WITH THE COUNCIL’S POLITICAL
ARRANGEMENTS?

Whilst the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny arrangements have been set up to provide
an independent process for reviewing Council’s decisions and policies, Overview and
Scrutiny should not be a confrontational or divisive process. It is intended to
complement and add value to the work of the Executive.

HOW DOES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY WORK?

Council will appoint the Members of each Overview and Scrutiny Committee and these
appointments will be on the basis of political proportionality. In order to maintain
independence and clarity in decision making, no member of the Executive may sit on an
Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the same Council. Each Overview and Scrutiny
Committee has a Membership of 12 Councillors.


                                             3
MEETINGS

Each Scrutiny Committee will meet at least 12 times per year at the Council’s main
offices and the meetings will be open for the public to attend except where personal or
confidential matters are being discussed.
Scrutiny may appoint sub committees for a fixed period, on expiry of which they will
cease to exist. Sub Groups should hold an agenda preparation meeting roughly 3
weeks before their first meeting. This is an opportunity for Councillors to be briefed by
Officers on the reports and issues requiring consideration. It will also give Councillors
the opportunity to decide the format, physical location for the meetings, presentation,
witnesses and agree a programme of publicity.

Scrutiny can recommend to Council the appointment of non-voting co-optees.

The Joint Chairs of each Scrutiny Committee or any 2 members of each Scrutiny
Committee and the monitoring officer or the proper officer may call a meeting of
Scrutiny if considered necessary or appropriate.

Due to the nature of certain cross cutting issues e.g. audit, there may be joint meetings
of both Overview and Scrutiny Committees.

TERMS OF REFERENCE

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Remit – to scrutinise the policies and performance of the Council in relation to internal
issues.

Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Remit – to scrutinise the policies on performance of the Council in relation to external
issues.

Both committees will undertake the following functions:-

      Holding the Executive to account
      Policy review and development
      Council reviews
      External scrutiny
      Performance management and review
      Ensuring corporate priorities are met
      Area scrutiny
      Engaging partner organisations
      Engaging the public
      Key decisions and the forward plan
      Internal Audit reviews and the relevant audit plan

There is also a Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee operated by Cumbria County
Council.




                                            4
QUORUM

No business will be transacted at any meeting of Scrutiny unless at least one quarter of
the whole number of members of Scrutiny is present, provided that in no case will any
business be transacted if less than 3 members are present.

CHAIR

Each Committee will have joint Chairs (one ruling group and one opposition group) and
the chair will be rotated in accordance with the work programme of that Committee.

In the absence of both joint Chairs, a person appointed to do so by those present will
preside.

WORK PROGRAMME

Both Committees will be responsible for setting their own work programme which
includes topics Members wish to cover.

They will also consider requests put forward by the Executive and issues arising
through community engagement but it must be demonstrated how these issues will
contribute to achieving the Council’s agreed priorities.

Provisional work programmes will be set out at the beginning of each year following
consideration of relevant information and data. This allows Overview and Scrutiny
Members and staff to plan the work flows, set targets, engage the community and seek
external witnesses if required. It also allows staff and Councillors to consider training
requirements.

Issues arising during the year through regular scrutiny of Executive or through
unforeseen circumstances can be dealt with if necessary.

Work Programmes can be viewed on the Overview and Scrutiny link on
www.allerdale.gov.uk

AGENDA ITEMS

Any member of the Council may give written notice to the proper officer that they wish
an item to be included on the agenda of a relevant scrutiny committee. If the proper
officer receives such a notification then they will include the item on the first available
agenda for consideration by the committee.

The agenda and supporting papers will be circulated to Members at least five clear days
before the meeting.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees are supported by a member of staff from
Democratic Services. The meetings are ‘managed’ by the Chairman who will introduce
each item for question and debate by Councillors.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees make recommendations and report to the
Executive. The recommendations which Overview and Scrutiny make to the Executive
or Council must be evidence based (see appendix 1).

                                            5
Minutes of each meeting will be recorded and these will be agreed, or amended as
required, at the start of the next meeting.

Certain issues may need to be discussed in closed session due to sensitivity. Issues
which would need to be considered as confidential and/or exempt information include
contract monitoring, industrial relations, commercial sensitivity and personal sensitivity.

Other issues may require more detailed investigation, in which a small sub group can be
established to review and report back to the main committee.

REPORTS

Scrutiny allows citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by holding public
inquiries into matters of local concern.     These inquiries lead to reports and
recommendations which advise the executive and the Council as a whole on its policies,
budget and service delivery.

CALL-IN

Scrutiny committee will also monitor the forward plan and decisions of the executive.
They can ‘call in’ a decision which has been made by the executive but not yet
implemented. This enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate (see
appendix 2)

If a councillor wishes any decision arising from any committee or task group to be
reviewed, he may, within 10 calendar days of the date on which the decision was made,
make such a request to the monitoring officer in writing. The request must be received
by the close of business on the tenth day. The item will then be submitted to the
scrutiny committee for consideration provided that:

   (a) The monitoring officer will decide whether the reasons given are material. His
       decision regarding the acceptance or refusal of matters to be called in will be
       final and
   (b) Should the deadline for the call-in procedure fall on a day when the Council
       offices are closed, the time limit will be extended to expire at the close of
       business on the first day when the offices re-open.

Decisions should not be implemented until the deadline for call-in has passed.

Scrutiny may recommend that the executive reconsider a decision. They may also be
consulted by the executive or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the
development of policy.

WHIP

There is no whip on Scrutiny.

WHO DECIDES WHAT ISSUES REQUIRE SCRUTINY?

An annual meeting of the co-chairs of both Overview and Scrutiny Committees looks at
the outline programme for the forthcoming year.

The following are examples of the criteria used for the selection or rejection of items:-
                                             6
Criteria for Selection of Items

    Issue identified by Members as a key issue for the public (through Member
     surgeries and other contact with constituents).
    Poor performing services (evidence from performance indicators/benchmarking)
    Service ranked as important by Council’s community (through market
     surveys/citizens panels).
    High level or user/general public dissatisfaction with service.
    Public interest issue covered in local media.
    High level of budgetary commitment to the service/policy area (as a percentage
     of total expenditure).
    Pattern of budgetary overspends.
    Council/Corporate priority area.
    Central Government priority area.
    Issues raised by external audit manager letters/external audit reports.
    Key issues or new evidence provided by external organisations on key issue.
    Call-ins, Forward Plan, Other

Potential criteria for rejection

      Issue currently being examined by the Executive
      Issue currently being examined by a staff group: changes imminent
      Issue will be addressed as part of a Best Value Review within the next year
      Other

Each Overview and Scrutiny Committee will decide the nature of the investigation
required, and whether this should be driven by:-

   (a) a full committee investigation
   (b) a joint committee investigation
   (c) a task and finish subgroup

HOW DOES THE REVIEW OR INVESTIGATION WORK?

The Overview and Scrutiny Process will:-

                                         COMPARE

                         Within the Council/other Departments
                                 Other Local Authorities
                                     Private sector
                                 Yearly/monthly figures
                                         Trends



                                          CONSULT

                                         Stakeholders
                                            Public
                                             Staff
                                           Members
                                              7
                                 Executive Members
                                 Other Organisations
                                 Satisfaction surveys
                                Method of consultation


                                     CHALLENGE

                              Why are we doing this?
               Should we be doing something more worthwhile instead?
                          Is anybody else doing it better?
                        Could we do it better in partnership?
                        Could we streamline our processes?
                               Beacons/best practice

SCRUTINISING EXTERNAL ORGANSIATIONS

Overview and Scrutiny can investigate specific matters of community interest. They do
this in the same way as they investigate any other matter. These investigations may
involve external organisations.

External organisations can be invited to send representatives to meet with and answer
questions from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, submit evidence or meet people
appointed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to help with their investigation.

EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT INVESTIGATIONS

A crucial part of the overview and scrutiny process is to take evidence from the public,
witnesses or experts. Full consideration will be given to which groups, representatives
or individuals will be asked to attend and how hard to reach groups can be encouraged
to attend.

WHAT QUESTIONS CAN AND SHOULD COUNCILLORS ASK?

When considering an issue, Members of Overview and Scrutiny Committees can ask
Council staff and other witnesses for information and opinions and may wish to be
informed about the following:-

Background:

       Major changes over the last (say) 5 years
       Recommendations and outcomes of recent local reviews, inspections, audits etc
       Challenges or opportunities facing the service
       Where provision or practice does not meet the public’s needs or wishes
       How is service delivery affected by budgets?
       What are the links with other organisations?
       What is the match to policy and plans?
       What major changes are foreseen?

Service delivery issues:

    How are the public’s needs and wants met?
    How are the needs and wants understood and delivered?
                                           8
    What is communicated, to whom, and how? Is it effective?
    What resources are employed? (people, buildings, equipment, information)
    How are those resources deployed to meet priorities? Should these
     arrangements continue?
    How will they impact on key policies?
    What outcomes will be met?
    Costs
    Partnership arrangements – current and potential

Performance:

      How effective is the service and how is this known?
      What trends are shown by performance indicators?
      What feedback has there been?
      How well does the service compare with others in the field?
      Performance against standards and targets
      External awards and accreditations

The greater number of questions answered negatively or not at all, the greater the need
for Overview and Scrutiny to get involved.

WHAT WILL SUCCESSFUL OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY MEAN TO ALLERDALE?

Successful overview and scrutiny will mean:

    The engagement of all relevant stakeholders, including partners and the public
    Effective development of policies and initiatives will have a beneficial impact on
     the community
    Successful scrutiny of outside agencies will have a positive impact on the work of
     the agency and outcomes for the people of Allerdale
    Significant contributions to continuous improvement in services through best
     value
    Transparency and high level awareness and understanding of overview and
     scrutiny
    Genuine non-political working to prioritise the needs and aspirations of the
     community
    Improved democratic processes of decision making through improved quality of
     debate, greater public involvement and enhanced councillor motivation
    Issues are opened for a wider debate, which contribute to a more ‘considered’
     decision.
    A willingness to appraise performance honestly and embrace continuous
     improvement
    The ability to be open-minded and confident about challenging the status quo
    Members and officers developing a common understanding of the principles and
     processes of overview and scrutiny.

GUIDE FOR STAFF

Evidence can be given in many different ways. The 3 most common forms are:-

    Written
    Oral
    Visual Presentation
                                           9
However, external expert presentations, site visits, meetings in location, demonstration
and the like can all be employed.

Issues such as public access, safety and risk assessments should not be overlooked.

In each case evidence should be clearly presented and ‘easy to digest’.

Evidence needs to be:-

        Concise and factually accurate
        Explain any jargon, acronyms, abbreviations and technical terms
        Address the specific questions the panel has asked
        Avoid the use of irrelevant information
        Refer to or include relevant policy and other key documents where necessary
        Include milestones and information on timescales and deadlines

WILL I NEED TO ATTEND?

Where a report is called for, it is common practice to have the author of the report
and/or the Head of Service or Director to attend the meeting to present the written
information and to answer questions.

You can either attend the whole meeting or request that Democratic Services contact
you when your item is due to be considered.

WHAT WILL I BE ASKED?

Where appropriate, Democratic Services will advise on the context of the information
required and you may be given subject areas that are likely to be covered. Sometimes
questions are agreed in advance so that preparation may be carried out prior to the
meeting. However, Councillor may follow a related line of discussion and ask other
questions on that day.

If Councillors request information that you don’t have, simply say that you do not have
the information to hand. In some cases you will be asked to provide additional
information at a subsequent meeting.

WHAT FEEDBACK WILL I GET AFTER THE MEETING?

You will be sent a copy of the minutes and be given the opportunity to suggest limited
types of corrections within an advised timescale.

You will also be given sight of Overview and Scrutiny’s draft report prior to publication to
ensure that all the information is correct.

The Executive and Council will consider the report and decide whether or not to
implement the recommendations.

You will be kept informed of outcomes and developments.




                                            10
GUIDE FOR WITNESSES

Overview and Scrutiny Committees may question members of the Executive,
Committees and Directors/Strategic Managers/Heads of Service about their decisions
and performance, whether generally in comparison with Service Delivery Plans and
targets over a period of time or in relation to particular decisions, initiatives or projects.

Overview and Scrutiny may also invite non-Council employees to address them such as
residents and stakeholders or representatives of other public or private sector
organisations.

HOW CAN MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TAKE PART IN OVERVIEW AND
SCRUTINY COMMITTEES AND INQUIRIES?

Members of the public are always welcome to attend meetings and inquiries (with
exceptions where confidential items are under consideration). Meetings are usually
held at Allerdale House, Workington which is wheelchair accessible and parking spaces
for the disabled are located outside the building. However, if the Committee are
discussing a local issue affecting a particular Ward/Town the meeting will be held in that
area.

There are 3 main ways for members of the public to take part other than as an observer
– a) by submitting a request for an issue to be examined (which can take the simple
form of a written suggestion to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee or b) by
requesting (or being invited) to give evidence as a witness or c) by contacting your local
ward councillor and giving them the details.

Overview and Scrutiny does not deal with individual queries, concerns or complaints. If
you are not satisfied with a service received from the Council, please use the Council’s
complaints procedure.

There are set criteria for selecting items. Your suggested item will be considered along
with other set Council items to assess whether it should be looked at and you will be
informed accordingly. If it is decided to proceed with consideration of the issue you
have suggested, the Chairman may request that you attend the meeting either to
answer questions or to make a statement and you will be contacted regarding the
arrangements.

If you are making a statement, once you have finished, Members of Overview and
Scrutiny may ask you questions. In exceptional circumstances the Committee may
decide to consider the points you have raised in private.

If you would like further information on how to request an item for Overview and
Scrutiny, please contact Democratic Services on 01900 326340 or e-mail
democratic.services@allerdale.gov.uk

ASSISTANCE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Scrutiny will be held in an accessible room and an audio loop will be available on
request. Large print agendas are also available on request.




                                             11
WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM ASKED TO BE A WITNESS?

When an Overview and Scrutiny Committee requests witnesses on a particular topic, it
may ask for written evidence or it may ask people to attend in person. For Members of
the public, this is of course entirely voluntary, however your views and experience will
be invaluable in providing the necessary evidence to the committee in order that every
aspect is considered in the examination of the subject matter.

When an issue is reviewed which involves the work of external agencies, the relevant
committee may invite a representative to give evidence.

WRITTEN EVIDENCE

Written evidence should state who or which organisation is submitting it. The evidence
should be self-contained and paragraphs numbered for ease of reference. Please try to
be as concise as possible. A one page summary of the main points is useful.

Democratic Services will discuss the timetable with you.

ORAL EVIDENCE

If you are giving oral evidence you will be told the specific area of inquiry you will be
questioned about and where possible you will receive guidance on the questions you
may be asked. In addition, you may be asked to provide written background information
that will be circulated to committee Members before the meeting.

Witnesses may be asked to attend the whole meeting, so they can be invited to
comment on the evidence of other witnesses. Witnesses may bring advisers with them
to consult during the questioning.

Where the committee calls for a council witness, it may be left to the Department to
decide which officer should represent it at the meeting, or it may request a named
officer.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees nearly always take evidence in public and
representatives of the press may also be present. If there are particular reasons why a
witness wants to give some or all of their evidence in private, Democratic Services
should be consulted well in advance of the meeting. However, witnesses will have the
right not to answer particular questions in public session where they believe that their
answer would contain confidential information.

HOW WILL THE MEETING BE SET OUT?

The Overview and Scrutiny committee members like to make the meetings as informal
as possible and welcome public participation. Councillors usually sit around a table
along with the press and any witnesses. Seating is provided for members of the public
at the rear of the room. Microphone and tape recording equipment is not usually used,
but in the case where a larger room is used this equipment may be included to aid
audibility and clarity.




                                           12
Appendix 1

                   PROCESS FOR SCRUTINY REPORTING


                            Report of Scrutiny Committee




              Reported to Executive (Scrutiny Chair or a Representative)
                  may be invited to attend and speak on the report




             Executive agrees the                       Executive makes any
                Report in full                             amendments




             Report to Council                    Amendments are reported back
                                                    to Scrutiny giving reasons for
                                                      changes. A member of the
                                                     Executive may be invited to
                                                   attend the meeting and put the
                                                   case. Scrutiny either confirms
                                                    original recommendations or
                                                  amends the recommendations in
                                                 light of the views of the Executive




                                                    Recommendations of both
                                                   committees are considered at
                                                            Council




                                          13
Appendix 2
                                 CALL IN PROCEDURE


                             Decision taken by Executive


                           Minutes circulated to Members




                             Deadline for Decisions to be
                                      called in



             No call-ins                                       Decision called in



     The decision becomes a
          resolution of                                       Refer to Scrutiny
      recommendation to                                          Committee
            Council

                                     Decision of the          The decision of the
                                   Executive is agreed         Executive is not
                                                                   agreed


                                  The decision becomes a
Report to Council                      resolution or               Returned to
 for information                recommendation to Council           Executive




                    Executive agrees with            Executive does not
                          Scrutiny                   agree with Scrutiny




                                Recommendations of both
                               committees are considered at
                                        Council




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