How does Scrutiny work?
Scrutiny provides an opportunity for Councillors, partners and members of the public to:
- Challenge the performance of service providers and raise standards, to ensure that services meet people's needs.
- Hold the Council's decision makers to account.
- Examine issues that affect the well being of the people of Cheshire East.
The main focus of Scrutiny committees are:
- To hold the Cabinet to account for its decisions in its leadership of the local authority. All Overview and Scrutiny Committees have the power to call-in a decision, whereby a specific decision can be held and reviewed in a formal meeting with evidence from the decision maker and those calling in the decision. Following this and on the balance of the evidence received, the decision can be accepted or recommendations made to the decision maker for it to be reconsidered or changed in some way.
- To consider existing council policy or services to evaluate their effectiveness. Depending upon the evidence gathered, it might be concluded that a policy or service is performing well, or that improvements or reshape of policy or service area may be needed,
- To highlight areas of poor performance and investigate methods of improving that performance. Overview and Scrutiny has an important role to play in the performance management systems of the local authority. Each service area has targets and key performance Indicators to meet.
- To engage in external scrutiny of other providers of public services. These initiatives are all concerned with ensuring local elected representatives have a greater say over public services which impact upon their communities, with the local electorate able to observe the transparent, evidence based overview and scrutiny process. Aside from specific service areas, local authorities also have a power to promote the social and economic wellbeing of the area. Using this power, Overview and Scrutiny can scrutinise any matter, which has an impact on a community. This contributes to the perspective that elected local representatives can and should play a crucial role in ‘place-shaping’ and influencing the future vitality of their community.
If they are based on the strength of the evidence received Overview and Scrutiny’s recommendations can be a very powerful force for change and improvement. Consequently, it means that Overview and Scrutiny can be a highly influential function in the local community. Its evidence led reviews of existing services ensure that local people are receiving the services they require and deserve.
This toolkit aims to provide guidance to everyone involved in the Overview and Scrutiny process in Cheshire East. The toolkit explains how overview and scrutiny works in Cheshire East and how we can involve the public and our partner organisation:
- As contributors to the selection of topics
- As participators at scrutiny meetings and task and finish group meetings
- As co-opted members as full participants of the process
- As expert witnesses, brought in to provide evidence
The toolkit has been drawn from a variety of sources and includes many good practice points selected from leading authorities in the field.
The toolkit will enable members of Overview and Scrutiny Committees to ensure that they concentrate on topics that matter to the residents of Cheshire East, and this in turn will help us to play a large part in shaping the future direction of the new authority.