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 do we scrutinise?
Many decisions that affect communities will be made by the communities themselves. Decisions are also made by Council Officers, by the Council’s ‘Executive’ (the political leadership) and by full Council (all Councillors). Whilst the Executive proposes and implements policy, the remaining Councillors play a vital Scrutiny role in five Select Committees:
- People Scrutiny Committee
- Place Scrutiny Committee
- Performance and Overview Scrutiny Committee
- Public Services Scrutiny Committee
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 Scrutiny Committees.
How do Scrutiny Committees operate?
- Scrutiny Committees meets six times a year with additional meetings scheduled when necessary.
- The committee comprises 9 non-executive Members and Council elects the Chairs 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.
Why is scrutiny important?
Former Scrutiny Chairs explain why scrutiny is important
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
- The Corporate Plan
- Suggestions made by Officers
- Members’ own Suggestions
If you would like to suggest an item for scrutiny, please email email@example.com
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.
How can I find out more?
The Monmouthshire-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-2 or the Council’s Constitution.