Meeting documents

Constitution Committee
Monday 17 August 2009

Date of meeting: 17 August 2009
Document type: Report
Committee: Constitution Board
Title: Taking Scrutiny Forward

View text-formatted section of this report, which retains the formatting of the original document

Abstract (plain text version of the report)


Constitution Committee – 17 August 2009

1. Background

At its meeting on 29 July 2009, the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee (OSMC) considered proposals for taking scrutiny forward at the county council. A report was presented outlining the findings of the Scrutiny Review Group, new legislative requirements and a possible new structure. A copy of the report is attached at annex A.

2. Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee

2.1 The views of the committee are summarised below:

a) Scrutiny of the environment and the economy
Members supported the return of the Environment Scrutiny Committee with regular reports on the economy from Gloucestershire First (the Thematic Partnership for the Economy under the Gloucestershire Conference) to the Scrutiny Management Committee. Task groups will be set up as required to look at specific issues.

b) Community safety
Support was expressed for setting up a committee with responsibility for scrutiny of crime and disorder issues and the activities of the Community Safety Directorate. Members hoped that it would be possible to include representatives from the district councils and police authority on the committee. Provision should be made in the constitution for six seats for district councillors (one from each council) and a member of the police authority. Members felt that the county and district councillors on the committee should not also be members of the police authority.

c) Health and community well-being
It was suggested that the committee should be called the ‘Health, Community and Care Scrutiny Committee’ to reflect its wider remit which includes the activities of the Community and Adult Care Directorate.

d) Children and young people
As per the report presented to OSMC – the committee will continue largely in the same format.

e) Scrutiny management
The Scrutiny Management Committee was recognised as an important body in co-ordinating the scrutiny process. It is suggested that the committee includes 12 members and that the chairs of the other scrutiny committees (including the Audit Committee) are members of the committee.

f) Budget and performance
Members supported a separate committee to provide a corporate overview of performance and budget issues. It was felt that quarterly meetings were unlikely to be sufficient and the same number of meetings would be required as the other scrutiny committees (six per year). It was suggested that the role of the Council Plan and Budget Task Group should be integrated into the committee.

g) Time-limited task groups
As a general principle, it was felt that the number of task groups should be limited to 10 which is equivalent to two per scrutiny committee (excluding the Audit Committee). The Scrutiny Management Committee will have an important role in ensuring that reporting deadlines are met. Task groups should address specific issues and ‘add value’ but not duplicate the activities of other bodies.

h) Neighbourhood scrutiny
As per the report presented to OSMC - further work is required in this area when the new scrutiny structure is in place.

i) Committee membership (except Scrutiny Management Committee)
The OSMC report suggests that all the scrutiny committees (except the Audit Committee) should include nine county councillors. A proposal was put forward that the Health, Community and Care Scrutiny Committee should be increased to 10 county councillors.

j) Councillor calls for action
As per the report presented to OSMC – councillor calls for action will be referred to the most appropriate scrutiny committee.

2.2 An updated structure chart reflecting the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee is attached at annex B.

3. Suggested amendments to the constitution

In order to assist members there is attached at annex C extracts from the constitution relating to overview and scrutiny showing suggested amendments to implement the proposals contained in this report. For ease of reading, a version without the changes highlighted is included at annex D.

4. Recommendations

a) To consider the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and make an appropriate recommendation to full council on the future scrutiny structure.

b) To recommend to full council that the constitution be amended in order to implement the new scrutiny arrangements.

Councillor Rob Garnham
Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee