Why do we have Scrutiny?
One of the main aims of the Modernising Local Government agenda was to introduce greater accountability for elected members regarding decisions they made on behalf of their local community, whilst speeding up the decision making process that was seen as being slow and overly bureaucratic. The whole democratic process needed to be more visible and inclusive for local people.
The Local Government Act 2000 recognised these weaknesses and proposed new political arrangements for local authorities based on an ‘Executive’ function with an independent ‘Scrutiny’ function.
Scrutiny now plays a key role in promoting accountability in the decision making process of local authorities. It is also useful in ensuring that council policies reflect current priorities, as well as promoting efficiency and encouraging partnership working with external agencies.
What is the role of a Scrutiny Committee?
The main roles and responsibilities of scrutiny committees are to:
- Examine how well the Executive Board and Council are performing in delivering their key aims and objectives.
- Monitor the performance of the Authority’s services and functions.
- Review and scrutinise decisions made by the Executive Board where appropriate.
- Assist the Executive Board in the development, monitoring and review of policy.
- Scrutinise, as a key element of the consultation process, the proposed revenue budget strategy and capital investment programmes.
- Ensure that the Executive Board is publicly held to account and seek to promote open and transparent decision-making and democratic accountability.
- Play a key role in the development, monitoring and review of Council policies.
- Enable the participation of external organisations and partners in consideration of issues that may impact upon the delivery of Council and countywide objectives.
However, scrutiny committees do not discuss individual complaints and appeals, or intervene in planning decisions.