This report covers meetings and activity from the 2019/20 municipal year. It provides a summary of the work undertaken by all the Overview and Scrutiny Committees during 2019/20.
The Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairmen presented the 2019/20 Scrutiny Committee Annual Report. The report summarised the work that had been undertaken by each of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees during what had been a challenging year. He thanked Members, and Officers for their support during the year and gave special thanks to the Scrutiny Officer who had provided support to the Scrutiny Chairmen and their Committees. He also thanked the Chairmen of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees for their support during the past year as the Chairmanship was passed on to Councillor Ray Wootten, for the forthcoming year.
Councillor Jeal was thanked for his work as the Chairman of Chairmen of Scrutiny.
A Member felt that the annual report was not a reflection of proper Scrutiny. It was suggested that the Annual Report should also have included examples of where Scrutiny should have taken place and lessons Scrutiny could take from this to improve performance.
In accordance with Article 4.10 (iv), a motion was proposed without notice:
That the role, structure and performance of the Scrutiny Committees should be referred to a suitable independent individual nominated by the Local Government Association (LGA) to review whether or not it was fit for purpose and how it might be improved.
The Monitoring Officer confirmed that the motion had been properly made in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. The motion was seconded.
Debate on the motion followed with Members supporting the proposal. It was stated that Scrutiny should not be used to criticise, but to advise when things went wrong, failure in the Scrutiny process was not beneficial to the Authority. Reference was made to other local authorities who had alternative Scrutiny processes.
Thanks were given to Zena West, the Scrutiny Officer, who had recently left the authority, for the work she had done in Scrutiny. It was agreed that the current Scrutiny process did not work as effectively as it could and needed to be reviewed. Those Members who were County Councillors gave examples of Scrutiny Committees that were in place at Lincolnshire County Council.
It was acknowledged that although the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings had continued during the pandemic, the effectiveness of Scrutiny could be vastly improved. Some Members felt that the Scrutiny process should be more independent to ensure more productive meetings. Members agreed that the current Scrutiny process was not as effective as it could be and needed to be reviewed, the motion was supported by Members.
Before the vote took place, the Monitoring Officer clarified the position with voting. She stated that although the business of the previous meeting (26 November 2020) was on the agenda, in her view it was a new meeting and therefore the decision to have recorded votes on all items of business, did not apply to this meeting.
On being put to the vote, it was AGREED:
That the role, structure and performance of the Scrutiny Committee system should be referred to a suitable independent individual nominated by the Local Government Association (LGA) to review whether or not, it was fit for purpose and how it might be improved.
The substantive motion was then voted on and Members noted the Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2019/20.