Agenda item

Review of Scrutiny Function Arising from the Covid-19 Pandemic

A report of the Head of Strategic Support to enable the Commission to review the scrutiny function arrangements put in place on the advice of the Centre for Public Governance and Scrutiny (CfPGS) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minutes:

A report of the Head of Strategic Support to enable the Commission to review the scrutiny function arrangements put in place on the advice of the Centre for Public Governance and Scrutiny (CfPGS) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic was considered (item 6 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

The Democratic Services Manager assisted with the consideration of this item and the following summarises the discussion:

 

      i.        It was recognised that the reinstatement of the existing Directorate-based Scrutiny Committees would not be appropriate at this time. The impact of Covid-19 on the Council remained significant and it was agreed that Council resources would be most appropriately directed towards this. The Commission considered that a suitable date for reviewing the paused scrutiny function would be the meeting scheduled for 8th March 2021.

 

    ii.        There had been a restructure of the Council’s Directorates, which meant that the existing Directorate-based Scrutiny Committees no longer reflected the current structure. Deferring the reinstatement of the Committees would allow for the development of a more suitable and effective scrutiny meetings structure.

 

   iii.        The Commission agreed that it would be beneficial to receive updates from the Council’s remaining Covid Recovery Cells; Community and Economic. The Organisational Recovery Cell was no longer in operation and the work streams were being addressed elsewhere. These updates would be received by the Commission on an alternating basis, starting with an update from the Community Recovery cell at its meeting in November.

 

   iv.        It was recognised that members of the Directorate-based Scrutiny Committees should continue to be provided with an opportunity to scrutinise items. In order to fulfil this requirement, a process was agreed which would involve identifying items for discussion from the respective Committee work programmes paused in April 2020. Members should communicate items to the Chair of the relevant Committee and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Scrutiny Commission. Identified items would then be considered by the Scrutiny Commission at the relevant meeting.

 

    v.        A further process was agreed to allow for Directorate-based Scrutiny Committee members to help scrutinise pre-decision scrutiny items. Items selected by the Scrutiny Commission for pre-decision scrutiny would be communicated to committee members following agenda publication. Committee members would then be encouraged to highlight comments to members of the Scrutiny Commission to raise at the relevant meeting of the Scrutiny Commission.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

1.    that the suspension of the current cycle of directorate-based Scrutiny Committee meetings and Scrutiny Panel work continue, with a further review date in March 2021.

 

2.    that the Scrutiny Commission received updates from the remaining Covid Recover cells; Community and Economic. These would alternate, starting with an update on the Community Recovery cell at it’s meeting on 16th November 2020.

 

3.    that Directorate-based Scrutiny Committee members highlight important items from the respective Scrutiny Committee work programmes to the Chair of the relevant committee and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Scrutiny Commission. Identified items would then be considered by the Scrutiny Commission at the next available meeting.

 

4.    that to facilitate pre-decision scrutiny, Directorate-based Scrutiny Committee members be advised on agenda publication day of the items selected for pre-decision scrutiny and highlight comments to members of the Scrutiny Commission to raise at the relevant meeting of the Scrutiny Commission.

 

Reasons 

 

1.    To ensure that Council resources are focussed in the most appropriately.

 

2.    To ensure that the Commission is kept informed on the Council’s Covid recovery efforts.

 

3&4. To ensure that members of the Directorate-based Scrutiny Committees continued to maintain a voice within the Council’s scrutiny function during the temporary measures agreed.

Supporting documents: