Scrutiny is the activity of challenge of decisions and policies to ensure the best possible outcome for people in Monmouthshire.
Why do we need it?
Scrutiny is a legislative requirement to improve corporate governance by ensuring openness, accountability and transparency in decision-making.
How does Monmouthshire Council scrutinise?
Many decisions that affect communities will be made by the communities themselves. Decisions are also made by Council Officers, Council Members (elected County Councillors), the Council’s Executive (the political leadership) and full Council (all elected County Councillors). Whilst Executive Members (the Cabinet) propose and implement policy, the remaining Members play a vital Scrutiny role via four Select Committees:
- Adults Select Committee http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/?p=22628
- Children and Young People’s Select Committee http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/?p=22668
- Economy and Development Select Committee http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/?p=22697
- Strong Communities Select Committee http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/?p=22721
The purpose of Scrutiny and Select Committees is to ensure Councillors and Officers are held accountable for the decisions they make on behalf of communities. Scrutiny does not have decision-making powers, however, it tests whether the Council is making the right decisions and adopting the right policies and makes recommendations as to how Council services can be improved. Please see the Monmouthshire Select Committee Terms of Reference for more detail on the remit of the four Select Committees.
How do Scrutiny Committees operate?
- Each Scrutiny Committee meets six-weekly, with additional meetings scheduled when necessary.
- The committee comprises 9 non-executive Members and the Committee elects a Chair annually.
- The Scrutiny Committees set their own agenda and agree a forward work programme for the year.
- Scrutiny Committees hold pre-meetings to discuss items on the agenda and agree lines of questioning.
- Scrutiny Committees can scrutinise decisions in advance of them being taken and can also review past decisions – Pre-decision and Post-decision scrutiny.
- Scrutiny Committees can meet jointly to discuss issues of common interest.
- Scrutiny Committees may convene with Scrutiny Committees of another Council to scrutinise collaborative services or areas of common concern.
The Scrutiny and Executive Protocol provides a detailed explanation of the rules and regulations around Scrutiny.
How do Scrutiny Committees decide what to scrutinise?
Scrutiny Committees will select topics for scrutiny by considering:
- The Cabinet and Council Forward Planner
- Suggestions made by the public
- The Council’s Risk Assessment
- Suggestions made by Officers
- Members’ own Suggestions
If you would like to suggest an item for scrutiny, please email Hazel Ilett, Scrutiny Manager: Hazelilett@Monmouthshire.gov.uk
If you would like to see what is currently being scrutinised, please click here…
If you would like to see recommendations made by our Select Committees, please click here…
For examples of how Scrutiny Chairs follow up issues after the meeting, click here…
How does Scrutiny influence outcomes for the Public
- Scrutiny Committees assess the impact of the Council’s policies on local communities and recommend improvement. Example: The ‘Pollinator Policy’ was subjected to significant Scrutiny to ensure public concerns could be addressed at an early stage.
- Championing issues of local concern to residents and developing new Council policy. Example: Public concerns about speeding on a Monmouthshire B- road led to a Member group examining ‘Traffic Speed Limits’ across the county, working with the Police to revise the policy.
- Being a ‘critical friend’, by questioning how decisions have been made and providing a ‘check and balance’ to decision-makers. Example: The decision to close a facility that provided services to adults with learning disabilities was robustly scrutinised. Scrutiny was the vehicle through which service users and key stakeholders could address decision-makers. The Committee analysed and supported a business case prepared by staff that provided an innovative solution which enabled the facility to remain open.
- Ensuring that Monmouthshire is performing to the best of its ability and delivering high quality services to the public. Example: Scrutiny visited public toilets across Monmouthshire and identified serious shortcomings in services provided. Scrutiny recommended improvements to some facilities, the closure of others and the transfer of responsibility for upkeep and maintenance of some facilities to other organisations, saving Council resources.
- Engaging with the public to develop citizen-centred policies and services. Example: Scrutiny challenged the business case to amalgamate Tourist Information Centres (TIC’s) and Museums in the four major towns. The Committee posed the ‘what matters?’ question in their communities. Scrutiny provided the mechanism for the public to engage in the budget dilemma and ensured the bespoke needs of Monmouthshire’s local towns were taken into account.
Can the Community get involved?
Scrutiny welcomes public participation in their work because it ensures that the Scrutiny is meaningful. The public are encouraged to become involved Scrutiny by suggesting items for Scrutiny or offering a view on a particular subject on the agenda. The public can become involved by:
- Attending one of our Committees to address the Committee or to simply observe Councillors in action…
- Speak to us……contact the Scrutiny Manager Hazelilett@monmouthshire.gov.uk or the Scrutiny Chair to offer a view if you are unable to join us…
- Submit comments via our webpages…
- Take part in consultation exercises on subjects under Scrutiny…
How can I find out more?
This website is currently ‘under construction’ and will eventually provide an online resource for elected Members. In the meantime, it provides information on the Scrutiny process in Monmouthshire to the public, Councillors and Officers. The Scrutiny Handbook provides a ‘nuts and bolts’ explanation of Scrutiny. For more detailed information on how the Scrutiny process operates, please refer to the Scrutiny and Executive Protocol or the Council’s Constitution. To gain an understanding of the direction and performance of the Scrutiny function, please feel free to read the Service Plan for Scrutiny 2016-2017 Quarter 1 Updated
The Current ‘Hot topic’ under debate is Collaborative Scrutiny… the Trials and Tribulations…. to find out more, please read our blog provided to the Wales Audit Office ‘Good Practice Exchange’. www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/joint-scrutiny-trials-tribulations