An Eye for Improvement

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					                                               APPENDIX TO ITEM 5(b)
                                                  EXECUTIVE BOARD
                                                    27th November 2003



                                A GUIDE TO

             OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY

                                IN HALTON

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Overview & Scrutiny in Halton
By Tony McDermott – Leader of Halton Borough Council
What on earth do we mean by „Overview and Scrutiny‟? It sounds a bit intrusive and
„big-brotherish‟, rather dry and certainly not something to set the pulse racing. This
Guide sets out to explain more about what it means, how it fits in to the wider picture
of how the Council operates and what contribution it can make. But if I had to try and
sum up in one word what I want Overview and Scrutiny to mean for this Borough, I
would say: „Improvement‟. That‟s something all of us who want a better future for
Halton really can get excited about.

There‟s no getting away from the fact that Overview and Scrutiny can involve some
of the bureaucratic trappings of local government – Boards, Working Groups,
Meeting Agenda, Reports and Minutes. These are simply some of the tools of the
trade, but the subject matter they are put to use on doesn‟t have to be dull and can be
inspirational, making a real difference to people‟s lives.

With the help of this Guide we intend to open up and make Overview and Scrutiny a
much more lively and engaging process. Through it, we want to tap into the rich
seam of local knowledge and the first hand experience of local people and
organisations, Councillors, service users and our own and partners‟ front line staff to
help us learn from experience and improve what we do next.

This Guide includes a „toolkit‟ comprising some of the techniques that can be
employed to gather and harness useful information. The point of Overview and
Scrutiny is to use this knowledge to help make better decisions and bring about the
progress we all want to see in the Borough.

I believe the production of this Guide marks an important step in sharpening Halton‟s
Eye for Improvement and, with you, will be hoping to see the benefits flowing soon
from more effective Overview and Scrutiny.

Tony McDermott
Leader of Halton Borough Council

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Overview & Scrutiny in Halton


Foreword from the Leader of Halton Borough Council

   What we mean by overview and scrutiny
   Overview and Scrutiny – an Opportunity
   What difference can it make?

A Framework for Overview & Scrutiny
   Aim and Objectives of Overview and Scrutiny
   Main Elements of Overview and Scrutiny in Halton
   The Council’s Organisational Arrangements for Overview and Scrutiny
   Individual roles and responsibilities
   Ground Rules
   The Work of Policy and Performance Boards – a Roundup
   Framework Appendices

Overview & Scrutiny – A Toolkit
   Policy and Performance Boards and PPB meetings
   Setting the Work Programme
    - Regular, Recurring Items including the Call-in Procedure
    - Topic-based Overview and Scrutiny
   Selecting Topics for Review and Development
   Preparing to Tackle a Topic
   Approaches to Topic Working
   Doing the Work
   Getting the most from Overview and Scrutiny
    - Making recommendations
    - Performance Management and Annual Reports
    - Coordination of Overview and Scrutiny
    - Training, Skills and Knowledge - Developing Overview and Scrutiny
    - Communication and the Media
   Concluding Comments

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                        USING THIS GUIDE

The Guide follows the structure outlined in the main
Contents page

It is divided into ‘bite-sized chunks’ or sections

At the beginning of each section is:

    A more detailed listing of the section’s contents as an
     aid to navigating the document, and

    A summary of the key points covered in the section

Reading the contents and summary at the start of each
section effectively provides a skim-read of the coverage and
key points of the document

Appendices are included at the end of the section to which
they relate

The main body of each section contains the detail and is
intended as a useful source of reference.

The Toolkit within this Guide is essentially advisory and
designed as a resource for overview and scrutiny
practitioners. However, it includes a number of specific
requirements set out in the 6 ‘Points of Procedure’ that
punctuate the document on pages >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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Overview & Scrutiny in Halton

The Guide is divided in to two main parts:
 A Framework for overview and scrutiny
 An overview and scrutiny Toolkit

Overview is a survey or comprehensive review of a subject area, looking
at the wider picture and cross-cutting issues, and is generally outward and
forward looking.

Scrutiny is a close examination or critical enquiry, typically more
narrowly focussed and inward looking – at decisions, processes and
performance – and drawing on evidence from the past.

Overview and scrutiny (O&S) is not a traditional committee or a
complaints system and is not a decision-making process.

The Council‟s machinery of scheduled Policy and Performance Board
(PPB) meetings provides a valuable discipline and structure for O&S.

The examination of specific issues or „Topics‟ by a variety of possible
methods, and the adoption/implementation of resulting evidence-based
recommendations, lies at the heart of adding value through O&S.

There are few formal restrictions standing in the way of effective O&S.
If in doubt, you can probably do it.

In busy working lives, O&S provides a precious opportunity to step back,
learn from experience and to THINK! This helps to get things right first

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    INTRODUCTION                                    But first of all, what do we mean by
                                                    overview and scrutiny? What
    The ultimate purpose of this Guide is
                                                    opportunities does it offer and what
    to help bring about improvements for
                                                    difference can it make?
    the people of Halton through effective
    overview and scrutiny of the Council‟s
                                                    What we mean by Overview and
    own activities, and where appropriate
    those of key partner organisations. Its
    intended audience is elected Members
                                                    It is easy to get too hung up on
    and officers of Halton Borough
                                                    definitions and on the distinctions
    Council and those who become or may
                                                    between overview and scrutiny, but
    wish to become involved in the
                                                    there is some value in considering
    overview and scrutiny of the Council
                                                    them if only to highlight different
    and key partner‟s activities – e.g. local
                                                    aspects of the overview and scrutiny
    organisations and groups, service users
    and interested members of the public.
                                                    Overview - a survey, summary or
    The Guide is divided into two parts:            comprehensive review of a subject
                                                    area, facts or ideas
   A Framework for Overview and
    Scrutiny. This sets out key features of         Scrutiny - a searching look or
    the arrangements for Overview and               examination; an investigation or
    Scrutiny in Halton Borough Council,             critical enquiry
    some key working principles and
    general guidelines                              They can be seen as part of the same
                                                    continuum but with typical differences
   An Overview and Scrutiny Toolkit.               in scope and emphasis. Some of these
    This provides a range of aids and               are contrasted below:
    checklists to help in selecting the right
    topics for overview and scrutiny,
    deciding how best to tackle them and                OVERVIEW                      SCRUTINY
    also procedures to use in carrying out
    the work itself.                                    Looks more at the             Looks more
                                                         wider picture                   narrowly at
    The Guide should provide a useful                                                    specifics
    starting point but is not comprehensive
                                                        Is more outward-              Is more inward-
    or set in stone. Its loose-leaf format               looking - directly              looking - at
    points to the fact that it is a document             at issues of                    Council
    that will be updated and improved over               concern to the                  decisions,
    time. It will be amended periodically                public                          processes &
    to reflect Halton‟s own learning,                                                    service
    experience and ideas and also to
    introduce fresh developments and good               Is more                       Is more
    practice from other organisations. This              exploratory and                 investigative
    Guide and other information about                    cross-cutting                   and focussed
    overview and scrutiny in Halton will
                                                        Looks more to                 Draws more on
    also be available via the Council‟s                  the future                     evidence from
    website                                                           the past

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    Overview & Scrutiny in Halton
The main elements of overview and              provides councillors with the
scrutiny in the local government               opportunity to champion issues of
context and the principles that need to        concern to local people and participate
underpin them are set out in the               in the development of new policy.
Framework section of this Guide; but it
will involve:                                  In one sense, the machinery of
                                               overview and scrutiny does something
   Looking at issues that affect the          useful just by being there. It provides
    lives of people in Halton and at the       a discipline and structure within which
    focus and quality of Council               services take stock of progress and
    services designed to address them          report on their performance.
   Listening to the concerns of local         In doing so they are prompted to think
    people to check how the Council            about - and often initiate - remedial
    and other organisations are                action in any areas that may be falling
    performing and where necessary             behind. More proactively, overview
    working to improve them.                   and scrutiny adds value by examining
                                               specific issues (or „Topics‟ in the
As well as considering what overview           language adopted by Halton BC),
and scrutiny is, it is also important to       considering what needs to be done to
recognise what it is not. It is not:           tackle them, and presenting well-
   The same as a traditional                  argued recommendations for decision
    committee system                           and implementation. These
                                               recommendations are the real stuff or
   A decision-making process (Its             product of overview and scrutiny.
    output should instead be well-
    argued and supported                       It can and should for the most part be
    recommendations)                           quite different from Councils‟ old
                                               committee style of working. The
   A mechanism for handling                   agenda is different in that elected
    complaints                                 Members can decide the areas they
                                               want to explore, review or challenge.
   An opportunity for negative                Councillors are free to operate in
    criticism, accusation or personal          different ways such as meeting in
    recriminations.                            different venues, in a less formal
                                               atmosphere, and they can invite others
Overview and Scrutiny – an                     to contribute expertise, ideas, and other
Opportunity                                    „evidence‟.

The overview and scrutiny process              In fact there are few formal restrictions
provides the opportunity for                   standing in the way of effective
councillors to help bring about                overview and scrutiny. The barriers
improvement by examining the various           that exist are primarily those we create
functions of the Council, influencing          – and can dismantle - ourselves. A
decisions and asking questions about           clear sense of direction plus the
how they have been made, considering           motivation and willingness to embrace
whether service improvements can be            new knowledge and ways of thinking
achieved and recommending how they             and working are the main ingredients
might be put into effect. It also              needed to grasp the opportunity.

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What difference can it make?                       involving the local community more
1                                                  actively in local democracy and the
 “Overview and scrutiny is potentially             working of its own elected Council and
the most powerful and exciting                     other public service bodies.
element of the entire local government
modernisation process. It places non-
executive Members at the heart of
policy-making and at the heart of the
way in which Councils respond to the
demands of modernisation.”

Although overview and scrutiny has a
particular meaning and role in a local
government context and needs to be
undertaken systematically, at root it is
a simple, common sense activity that
we all do, even subconsciously, in our
home and working lives. It involves
looking questioningly at what we do
and the circumstances involved,
learning from what we see or find out
and from experts we know, and using
the knowledge gained to do things
better in the future – examining the
map and discovering that better way to
drive to work, tapping into experience
and friendly advice to make a better
job of DIY, gathering evidence and
getting heads together at work to figure
out a more effective way of doing

In busy working lives, thinking time
often gets squeezed out. Overview and
scrutiny, properly carried out, takes a
constructively critical look at what we
do, how we do it and whether it makes
the impact intended. It provides scope
to explore and develop ideas and to
discover what works elsewhere. Over
time, the conclusions reached and
recommendations implemented can
make a real difference to the services
concerned and the lives of local
people. Overview and scrutiny also
has considerable potential for

 The development of overview and scrutiny in
Local Government ODPM, Sept 2002

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                THE FRAMEWORK

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                                THE FRAMEWORK
                                 Detailed Contents

Aim and objectives of overview and scrutiny (O&S)

Elements of O&S

The Council’s organisational arrangements for O&S

Individual roles and responsibilities

Ground rules:
 Overall guiding principles – from the Council’s Corporate Plan
 Good practice guidelines – for O&S
 Code of personal conduct – for all and for Members and officers
  in particular

The work of Policy and Performance Boards (PPBs) – a round up
outlining the main aspects of the O&S process covered in the Toolkit
section of this Guide


1                  Executive Board - Terms of reference extracts

2                  PPBs – Terms of reference extracts

3                  Best Value Committee – Terms of reference extracts

4                  Health scrutiny

5                  Roles and responsibilities of key players in O&S

6                  Secrets of success – summarises some of the factors
                   needed for successful O&S identified from research

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Overview & Scrutiny in Halton

The central aim of overview and scrutiny (O&S) in Halton is
improvement that benefits the local community.

O&S in Halton comprises 5 main elements:
 The development and review of policy
 Holding the Council‟s Executive to account for its decisions and
 Monitoring service performance and the impact of Council policies
 Best value and other reviews
 Scrutiny of external bodies, notably Health.

The Council has „modernised‟ cabinet/O&S arrangements. The O&S
function is structured around 6 Policy and Performance Boards (PPBs)
and the Authority‟s Best Value Committee. The PPBs mirror Halton‟s 5
strategic priorities.

The Scrutiny Coordinator (Member) and the Chief Scrutiny Advisor
(officer) have key responsibilities for overall coordination and
development of the Council‟s O&S function, working especially closely
with PPB Chairs and Prime Officer Leads.

Ground rules for conducting O&S in Halton envisage a process that is:
 Focussed on improvement
 Member led
 Positive
 Inclusive and „listening‟
 Evidence-based
 Value-adding
 Characterised by high standards of personal and professional conduct.

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                                         AND SCRUTINY IN HALTON
                                         The overall aim of „improvement that
SCRUTINY                                 benefits the local community‟ could be
                                         said to apply to all the activities and
                                         sections of Halton Borough Council.
AIM AND OBJECTIVES FOR                   Our main concern here, however, is
OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY                    with the contribution to improvement
                                         achieved specifically through overview
Overall Aim                              and scrutiny, which can be seen as
                                         comprising five main elements:
The central aim of overview and
scrutiny in Halton is „Improvement‟:        The development and review of
improvement that benefits the local          policy
                                            Holding the Council‟s Executive
Objectives                                   Board to account for their decisions
                                             and actions
1. To examine issues that impact on
   the lives of local people and            Monitoring service performance
   explore ways to improve their well-       and the impact of Council policies
                                            Best value and other reviews
2. To support the Council in
   achieving its vision for the             Scrutiny of external bodies, notably
   Borough and in deciding how best          Health
   to address the strategic priorities
   set out in Halton‟s Community         This is a wide remit and there is no
   Strategy                              „one-size-fits-all‟ approach that is right
                                         for carrying out all the different
3. To promote continuous                 aspects of overview and scrutiny. This
   improvement, best practice and        part of the Guide sets out the Council‟s
   innovation within the services,       arrangements for overview and
   functions and policies affecting      scrutiny. The next part outlines some
   Halton over which the Council has     of the tools and techniques available in
   responsibility or influence           an overview and scrutiny Toolkit.
4. To promote open and transparent       THE COUNCIL’S
   decision-making, democratic           ORGANISATIONAL
   accountability and to hold the        ARRANGEMENTS FOR
   Council‟s Executive to account for    OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY
   its actions
                                         Overview and scrutiny is still a
5. To promote the involvement of         comparatively new function in local
   local communities in decision-        authorities. It has been introduced as
   making and the improvement of         part of the modernisation agenda for
   their own communities.                local government and the Local
                                         Government Act 2000 requires

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Overview & Scrutiny in Halton
Councils to have at least one overview                      The Policy and Performance Boards
and scrutiny committee.                                     are overview and scrutiny bodies
                                                            without decision-making powers but
In response to the Government‟s                             with a responsibility to scrutinise the
modernisation initiative, Halton                            actions and decisions of the
Borough Council has replaced the 100                        Executive and able to consider and
year old traditional committee system                       make recommendations on any
and has adopted new democratic                              matter affecting the area and its
arrangements. These comprise a                              inhabitants that lies within their remit.
cabinet style executive, with a leader
and individual executive „portfolio                         The Best Value Committee is a
holders‟ (this is known as the                              specialised Committee with an
Council‟s „Executive Board‟), which is                      overview role promoting the
balanced and complemented by series                         principles of Best Value and
of overview and scrutiny bodies                             continuous improvement within the
referred to in Halton as „Policy and                        Council. Specifically this includes
Performance Board‟s                                         reviewing and monitoring the annual
                                                            programme of Best Value reviews and
                                                            advising on management of the Best
                      Consult/           a) 5 PPBs          Value process.
Insert                 Listen            reflecting
                                         Halton‟s 5
Leader          Suggest policy/ make     strategic
and list         recommendations         priorities.
of                                       b)Corporate
                                                            Health Scrutiny
Portfolios       Scrutinise services,    Services
                    performance          PPB                In addition, primary and secondary
               and Executive decisions   c) BV              legislation – notably the Health and
                                                            Social Care Act 2001 - gives local
                                                            authorities the power to review and
                                                            scrutinise matters relating to the health
                                                            services in a Council‟s area.
The Terms of Reference of the
Executive Board, Policy and                                 This is an important part of the
Performance Boards and the Best                             Government‟s commitment to place
Value Committee are set out in the                          patients and the public at the centre of
Council‟s Constitution and are                              health services. It is a fundamental
reproduced here for reference as                            way by which democratically elected
Appendices 1 to 3. In essence,                              community leaders may voice the
however, the key elements of their                          views of their constituents and require
distinctive roles are:                                      local NHS bodies to listen and
                                                            respond. In this way local authorities
                                                            can assist to reduce health inequalities
The Executive Board or „cabinet‟ is                         and promote and support health
the key decision-making body within                         improvement.
the Council, operating within a
strategic framework of objectives and                       This important aspect of the Council‟s
policies encapsulated in the                                overview and scrutiny role is covered
Authority‟s Corporate Plan and other                        in more detail in Appendix 4.
key documents adopted by the full

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The diagram below shows the key
elements of Halton Borough Council‟s
overview and scrutiny arrangements
and how they fit into a wider context.


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INDIVIDUAL ROLES AND                            out but have the opportunity to
RESPONSIBILITIES                                contribute to the progress being made
                                                in Halton
All Councillors and a variety of
officers are involved directly in the           Good value for money – being
work of these different parts of the            economical, efficient and effective in
Council‟s organisational arrangements.          delivering „Best Value‟ for the public
The roles and responsibilities of the
key players are outlined in Appendix 4.         Co-operative – taking full advantage
                                                of the benefits for Halton from the
GROUND RULES                                    community, organisations, and groups
The elected Members and officers of             working constructively together in
Halton Borough Council – and other              partnership
contributors for that matter - should
rightly be expected to maintain high            Evidence-based – ensuring we learn
standards in the way they conduct their         from best practice elsewhere and make
business and themselves. In carrying            good use of research about what works
out overview and scrutiny it makes              in addressing the Borough‟s priorities.
sense to set out the ground rules to be
upheld by all involved in this aspect of        Good Practice Guidelines
the Council‟s work. This includes:
                                                In carrying out overview and scrutiny
   The overall Guiding Principles set          it is important:
    out in the both the Council‟s                  To keep in mind and be committed
    Corporate Plan and Halton‟s                     to the overall purpose of overview
    Community Strategy                              and scrutiny – „to bring about
                                                    improvement that benefits the local
   Good Practice Guidelines                        community‟
   A Code of Personal Conduct                     To undertake overview and
                                                    scrutiny as a Member-led process,
Appendix 5 summarises some „Secrets                 but one informed by the views of
of Success‟ that research and                       others including the public, the
experience elsewhere are important                  Council‟s executive, officers and
factors for effective overview and                  partners, and outside experts and
scrutiny.                                           researchers
Overall Guiding Principles                         To „think positive‟ – looking
                                                    beyond any problems identified
In all we do we aim to be:                          through overview and scrutiny to
Sustainable – improving the quality of              practicable solutions and workable
life of today‟s Halton residents without            ideas for overcoming them
jeopardising that of future generations
                                                   To approach topics for
Fair and inclusive – promoting equal                consideration through overview
access to opportunities and facilities,             and scrutiny with an open mind
and helping ensure that people or                   and a willingness to listen
sections of the community are not left

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   To establish and agree a clear brief            Approach overview and scrutiny
    and process for any topic to be                  constructively, as a process for
    examined                                         solving problems and making
                                                     improvements, not as an arena for
   To add value by developing,                      negative criticism or accusation.
    communicating and following
    through recommendations for                  Elected Members of the Council in
    action or decision                           particular will need to:

   To base recommendations on                      Declare any interest in the matters
    sound research, the evidence                     subject to overview and scrutiny
    gathered, reasoned analysis and
    debate and good practice principles             Use their powers of overview and
                                                     scrutiny properly and behave in a
   To select participants in overview               manner worthy of the trust placed
    and scrutiny on the basis of the                 in them by the local people who
    relevant skills, aptitude and know-              have elected them
    ledge they can bring to the task.
                                                    Consider the implications of
Code of Personal Conduct                             discussions and any consequent
                                                     media coverage on the reputation
All involved in overview and scrutiny                and public perception of overview
shall follow the overall Guiding                     and scrutiny
Principles and Good Practice
Guidelines outlined above and:                      Demonstrate a non-partisan
                                                     approach which places the needs
   Show courtesy and have respect for               and aspirations of the community
    the persons and views of all                     above the considerations of party
    contributors                                     politics
   Refrain from personal criticism,             Officers of the Council in particular
    whatever an individual‟s position            will need to:
    or standing
                                                    Live up to the high standards
   Conduct debate and offer evidence                expected of them, employ good
    or opinions in a polite and                      evidence, best practice, sound
    respectful manner                                reasoning and be impartial in
                                                     advising elected members
   Not permit personal agenda,
    rivalries and differences to deflect            Follow every lawful policy of the
    them from the overall aim of                     Council and not allow their own
    bringing about improvement in the                personal or political opinions to
    Borough.                                         interfere with their work in
                                                     supporting overview and scrutiny
   Recognise that effective overview
    and scrutiny is typically a team                Be cooperative and forthcoming
    effort requiring the willing input of            with information, in keeping with
    a range of contributors                          the guidelines in the Council‟s

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THE WORK OF POLICY AND                           4. Doing the work. This is where the
PERFORMANCE BOARDS – A                              real business of overview and
ROUNDUP                                             scrutiny happens. The scheduled
                                                    meetings of PPBs provide a good
The work of overview and scrutiny can               structure and a timetable for
be summarised through a look at a                   overview and scrutiny. They are
PPB‟s year, which involves the                      the right place for a number of the
following main stages.                              important overview and scrutiny
                                                    tasks. But much of the work will
1. Setting the work programme.                      actually be done by individuals or
   which includes special topics as                 smaller, informal, groups in
   well as the regular, on-going                    between these main meetings.
   aspects of overview and scrutiny
   such as quarterly performance                 5. Making recommendations. Even
   monitoring, scrutiny of the                      the best and highest quality
   Executive Board‟s decisions and                  overview and scrutiny work will
   actions, and systematic follow-up                make no impact unless its
   of previous PPB and other                        recommendations are successfully
   recommendations                                  fed into the decision-making
                                                    process. Typically this will
2. Choosing topics for review and                   involve making the case and
   development. This is perhaps the                 presenting recommendations to the
   most crucial part of the overview                Executive Board for decision.
   and scrutiny process because,
   however much effort goes into                 6. Getting the most from overview
   review or policy development, if a               and scrutiny. Underpinning
   topic has been chosen that the                   effective overview and scrutiny are
   Council cannot influence or is                   a number of important processes
   irrelevant to the needs of the area              that have relevance throughout the
   or the organisation, little benefit              year. These include performance
   will be gained.                                  management, effective commun-
                                                    ication and the development of
3. Deciding and preparing how to                    skills and knowledge. Preparing an
   tackle a topic. It is important to               Annual Report is also a useful
   choose an approach to the Topic                  discipline, providing a snapshot of
   (some of these are outlined in the               the PPB‟s progress in delivering
   Toolkit) that is suited to the subject           their work programme and
   matter being considered. The work                highlighting their main
   then needs to be planned and                     achievements in bringing about
   suitable arrangements put in place,              improvement for the Borough.
   be it establishing a working group
   with the right skills,                        The next section of this Guide is the
   commissioning research or                     Toolkit itself. This starts by
   bringing in expertise, or organising          considering PPBs and PPB meetings
   an Enquiry Panel or „select                   themselves and then looks at each of
   committee‟ style hearing.                     the main elements of the overview and
                                                 scrutiny year, as outlined above.

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The Toolkit is peppered with „Tips‟ at
relevant points in the text. It makes
use of a vocabulary and abbreviations
which have a particular meaning in the
context of Halton‟s overview and
scrutiny arrangements, e.g. „Topic‟,
and it is intended that these should
enter into Council usage, just as „PPB‟
already has done.

There is a whole host of good practice
and examples of different techniques
and approaches that could be included
in the Toolkit. As it is, this is not a
short document. But a deliberate
choice has been made in this first
edition of the Guide to include a
relatively few, key items rather than
risk overwhelming the reader with too
much detail. The opportunity always
exists to fill any major gaps shown up
by experience and to respond to
demands for additional material
through updates or in future editions of
the Guide.

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                                                                            Appendix 5

This Appendix complements the Members’ Role Profiles that are included in the
Council’s Constitution and set out their roles and responsibilities in greater detail.
It also includes an outline of some executive roles that interface with the overview and
scrutiny function, reflecting the importance of communication and the link between
them if overview and scrutiny is to add value to the Council’s work.

General points applicable to all
 All involved in overview and scrutiny should abide by the Ground Rules included
   in this Guide and communicate and cooperate effectively in bringing about
   improvement in Halton
 Anyone can propose Topic ideas for inclusion in the work programme of the
   Council‟s overview and scrutiny function (i.e. PPBs) but must accept that these
   need to be prioritised and it is impracticable to act on every suggestion

Executive Board/portfolio holders:
 Is itself the subject of overview and scrutiny through PPBs examining, and
   potentially „calling in‟, their decisions and holding them to account for progress in
   implementing the Council‟s plans and strategies
 Needs to be receptive to recommendations put forward by PPBs and to give them
   proper consideration when making decisions
 Should provide feedback to PPBs on whether and how their recommendations are
   taken forward and ensure that the contribution of PPBs to improvements achieved
   is duly acknowledged.

Executive Directors
 Should take the three previous points into account in providing advice to the
   Executive Board
 Support and performance manage Operational Directors and other key staff in
   respect of the overview and scrutiny aspect of their roles
 Ensure that due weight and resources are given to overview and scrutiny activities
   within their strategic remit in balancing the priorities of their Directorate, ensuring
   that the function can be carried out effectively.

PPB Chairs
Provide effective, overall leadership of the PPB within the framework of this Guide
 Drawing up and securing Member agreement on the PPB‟s work programme
 Convening, selecting and enabling effective Member input to overview and
    scrutiny Topic teams
 Overall responsibility for performance monitoring, quality control and delivery of
    the PPB‟s work programme

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   Generally securing the engagement/motivation of Members and developing the
    capacity of the PPB to undertake overview and scrutiny
 Preparation and securing agreement on the content of the PPB‟s Annual Report
 Developing/agreeing the agenda for PPB meetings in consultation with the Prime
    Officer Lead and others
 Effective chairmanship of PPB meetings and upholding the principles and
    approach set out in Halton‟s Guide to Overview and Scrutiny
 Ensuring PPB recommendations are put forward through the appropriate channels
    and that formal recommendations to the Executive in particular are soundly
    based/argued and well presented
 Liaising with relevant members of the Executive Board, and others, on PPB
    business and to keep fellow PPB Members suitably informed.
Work with the Scrutiny Coordinator and Chief Scrutiny Advisor to:
 coordinate PPB work programmes effectively, ensuring duplication is avoided and
    that suitable arrangements are arrived at for examining cross-cutting Topics
 develop the Council‟s overall approach and capacity to undertake overview and
    scrutiny effectively
Undertake the above with the support and with regard to advice from, in particular,
the PPB Prime Officer Lead, other Lead Officers, the Scrutiny Coordinator and Chief
Scrutiny Advisor.

PPB Vice Chair Person
 Should support and deputise for the PPB Chair in the performance of their role
  and responsibilities as outlined above and in the PPB Chair‟s job description
 Undertake additional specific duties delegated to them plus those highlighted in
  the Vice Chair‟s job description, notably relating to PPB Member training and

All PPB Members
 Should attend and contribute to PPB meetings and the work of any Topic teams of
    which they are a member
 Help retain the focus on the agreed work programme
 Carry out effectively any delegated role e.g. as Lead Member of a Topic team.

Scrutiny Co-ordinator (councillor)
 Provide overall coordination – notably of the Member-related aspects – of
   overview and scrutiny in close cooperation with and advice from the Chief
   Scrutiny Advisor
 Provide a key councillor link between the overview and scrutiny function as a
   whole and the Executive and Officer elements of the Council.

Operational Directors/other Lead Officers
 Provide the primary point of contact with Members – and particularly PPB Chairs
  – in relation to work and decisions concerning their operational Department
 Are responsible for ensuring that agreed action is carried out by their Department
 Assume the Lead Officer role in Topic work, where applicable
 Liaise with PPB Chairs and Prime Officer Leads and others in coordinating
  overview and scrutiny work e.g. in developing PPB agendas & work programmes.

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Prime Officer Leads
 Provide the primary point of contact and lead officer support for the PPB Chair
   and others in respect of overall coordination of the business of their specified PPB
   and related quality assurance. This would include:
   - development of the work programme
   - expediting/coordination of Topic Briefs
   - preparation and screening of PPB agendas in conjunction with Committee
       Services and PPB Chair
   - production of the PPB‟s Annual Report.
 Carry out their overview and scrutiny role as directors (see above and relevant
   role profile)
 Provide support to the PPB in collating and assimilating relevant
 Assist the Chairman in drafting the Inquiry report based on Members‟ findings
   and recommendations

The Chief Scrutiny Advisor
 Keeps abreast of good practice and provides independent advice and support on
   overview and scrutiny as the Council‟s chief (officer) advisor on these matters,
   working particularly closely with:
   - the (Member) Scrutiny Coordinator and PPB Chairs
   - PPB Prime Officer Leads and relevant democratic support service staff
 Works with the above and others to develop and improve the Council‟s overview
   and scrutiny function, and to coordinate and strengthen its effectiveness in Halton
 Sets out and keeps under review the framework and associated processes,
   procedures and arrangements for overview and scrutiny in the Council, in keeping
   with the approach agreed by Members and as presented in the „Guide to overview
   and scrutiny in Halton‟ (the „Guide‟).
 Promotes, advises upon and ensures implementation of the approach and good
   practice outlined in the „Guide‟.
 Issue of guidance on the appropriateness of individual items for inclusion in the
   PPB agenda and ruling upon inclusion of items outside the PPB work programme
   or guidance.

Committee Services
 Organise and administer the process for the statutory PPB meetings in keeping
  with the „Guide‟ and Halton BC‟s Constitution, including agenda and minute
 Assist the Lead Officer and PPB Chairman in identifying appropriate sources of
  information required to undertake effective scrutiny of issues.
 Perform a vital „front line‟ role in providing the secretariat function for formal
  scrutiny meetings, including:
  - provision of ICT and audio-visual equipment where required.
  - issuing invitations to witnesses.
  - convening and/or contributing to PPB „preparatory‟ meetings e.g. advising on
      agenda screening and options for meeting arrangements/management

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    -    provide relevant Executive Board reports, the Forward Plan, Information
         Bulletin items, recommendations for review and roll-forward items for
         possible consideration at PPB meetings
    -    developing and maintaining the Information Bulletin system itself.

Member Services
 Provide administrative and general support to Members in performing their
  overview and scrutiny duties.
 Support beyond organising of such non-statutory meetings/working groups is the
  responsibility of the Lead Officer or Manager of the Service Area under scrutiny.

Other Council staff
 Have a wealth of skills and knowledge to contribute to improving the lives of
   local people through participation in the Council‟s overview and scrutiny process.
   For example, staff based within the specific service area under scrutiny may be
   called upon to assist with the detailed collection and presentation of data or
 Policy Officers will provide and present internal policy documents as relevant to a
   scrutiny topic and assist with formulating new policies.
 Best Value Officers will provide relevant monitoring reports, comparative data
   and good practice examples from other organisations.

Co-opted/external contributors
 Have a valuable input to make by bringing the perspective of partners, experts,
   local organisations/groups and the public to overview and scrutiny in Halton.

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                                                                          Appendix 6

                     SECRETS OF SUCCESS
This summarises some of the factors needed for successful overview and scrutiny that
have been identified from research.

1. A clearly identified and articulated role for overview and scrutiny

2. A high level of awareness and understanding of overview and scrutiny

3. Member leadership and engagement

4. The role and style of the Chair is crucial

5. A responsive Executive

6. Effective direct officer support and management of scrutiny processes

7. A supportive officer culture, acknowledging their role and contribution

8. Involvement of all Members in setting the work programme

9. Not overloading the work programme

10. Building in some quick wins

11. Genuine non-partisan working

12. Good planning and preparation

13. Working as a team

14. Coordination between overview and scrutiny panels - or Policy and Performance
    Boards in Halton BC‟s case

15. Review progress and the process regularly.

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