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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 13/11/2001
OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY PROCEDURE RULES



Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules
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Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules

1. What will be the number and arrangements for Overview and Scrutiny Committees?

The Council will establish the Overview and Scrutiny Committees set out in Article 6 and will appoint to them as it considers appropriate from time to time. Such committees may appoint sub-committees with the agreement of the Council.

Currently Waverley has three Committees which take the functions of both Overview and Scrutiny.

The Committee membership is politically proportional and each Committee can consist of up to 19 members. In addition, substitute members are also nominated.

(Note for the Executive Committee: the SIG has discussed ways of streamlining processes at Overview and Scrutiny meetings, and feels that a smaller number of members might help the Committees work more effectively, and possibly carry out some of the roles now undertaken by Special Interest Groups).

The Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen will be nominated annually at the Council’s Annual Meeting or at the Council meeting setting them up. In the event of a single party Executive the Chairmen of the three Overview and Scrutiny Committees shall be elected from nominations put forward by the larger opposition group, with candidates for Vice-Chairmen elected from nominations put forward by the majority group.

2. Who may sit on Overview and Scrutiny Committees?

All councillors except for members of the Executive Committee may be members of an Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The appropriate portfolio holder can attend an Overview and Scrutiny Committee where matters relating to their area are included in the agenda, and shall have a right to address the Committee.

3. Co-optees

External representatives may be co-opted by the Council as non-voting members onto Overview and Scrutiny Committees on an ad hoc basis, up to a maximum of three per committee. Although they have no voting rights, they will ensure that matters of concern to them can be placed on the agenda and discussed at the relevant committee.

4. Meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees

There shall be at least six ordinary meetings of each Overview and Scrutiny Committee in each year. In addition, extraordinary meetings may be called from time to time as and when appropriate. An Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting may be called by the chairman and vice-chairman together of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee or by the proper officer if they consider it necessary or appropriate.

In addition, meetings to consider call-in items will be held as and when is appropriate, to coincide with the timescale for scrutiny.

All meetings will be held in open session with the press and public able to attend, except for the consideration of exempt or confidential information. Minutes will be taken by officers at each meeting of the Committees and published.
Any member who has a pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest in any matter on the agenda must disclose the interest and may be required to withdraw from the meeting when appropriate, in accordance with the National Code of Local Government Conduct.

5. Quorum

The quorum for an Overview and Scrutiny Committee shall be as set out for committees in the Council Procedure Rules in Part 4 of this Constitution.

6. Who chairs Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings?

In the event of a single party Executive, the Chairmen of all three Overview and Scrutiny Committees should be nominated by the largest minority political group on the Council.

7. Work programme

The Overview and Scrutiny Committees/sub-committees will be responsible for setting their own work programme within the overall framework set by the Council and in doing so they shall take into account wishes of members on that committee who are not members of the largest political group on the Council. Full Council may wish to decide what policy reviews or key issues should be of priority for a Committee in the coming year.

8. Agenda items

The Chairman or any member of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee shall be entitled to give notice to the Chief Executive that he/she wishes an item relevant to the functions of the committee or sub-committee to be included on the agenda for the next available meeting of the committee. On receipt of such a request the proper officer will ensure that it is included on the next available agenda. This does not, however, give any rights to an individual member to commission reports.

If a Chairman, or any other member of an Overview and Scrutiny Committee asks for an item to be included on an agenda, the item will be included as a heading only, and the Committee then has to agree that they would like to see the item added to the work programme. Officers can then proceed with producing a detailed report on the issue for the next appropriate meeting of the Committee.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committees shall also respond, at the earliest occasion consistent with due notice, to requests from the Council and the Executive to review particular areas of Council activity. Where they do so, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee shall report their findings and any recommendations back to the Executive and/or Council. The Council and/or the Executive shall consider the report of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the earliest opportunity.


It is intended that Overview and Scrutiny Committees will be involved from an early stage in the decision-making process, examining issues before decisions are taken by the Executive, rather than only after a decision is taken by operating the call-in procedure. Accordingly, matters relating to the budget or policy framework will normally be considered by the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee before they are submitted to the Executive. In addition, the Overview and Scrutiny Committees may identify any item for the rolling programme for overview. The comments of the appropriate Committee will be reported to the Executive.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees will be serviced by the Committee Services Team.

9. Policy review and development

(a) The role of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees in relation to the development of the Council’s budget and policy framework is set out in detail in the Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules.

(b) In relation to the development of the Council’s approach to other matters not forming part of its policy and budget framework, Overview and Scrutiny Committees may make proposals to the Executive for developments in so far as they relate to matters within their terms of reference.

(c) Overview and Scrutiny Committees may hold enquiries and investigate the available options for future direction in policy development and may appoint advisers and assessors to assist them in this process. They may go on site visits, conduct public surveys, hold public meetings, commission research and do all other things that they reasonably consider necessary to inform their deliberations. They may ask witnesses to attend to address them on any matter under consideration and may pay to any advisers, assessors and witnesses a reasonable fee and expenses for doing so.

10. Reports from Overview and Scrutiny Committee

(a) Once it has formed recommendations on proposals for development, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will prepare a formal report and submit it to the proper officer for consideration by the Executive (if the proposals are consistent with the existing budgetary and policy framework) and to the Council as appropriate (e.g. if the recommendation would require a departure from or a change to the agreed budget and policy framework).

(b) If an Overview and Scrutiny Committee cannot agree on one single final report to the Executive, if [x] members present request it, then one minority report may be prepared and submitted for consideration by the Executive with the majority report.

(c) The Council or Executive shall consider the report of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee as quickly as the rules permit.


11. Making sure that Overview and Scrutiny reports are considered by the Executive

All Overview and Scrutiny reports shall be considered by the Executive as expeditiously as possible and at the very maximum, within two months of the work being completed.

12. Rights of Overview and Scrutiny Committee members to documents

(a) In addition to their rights as councillors, members of Overview and Scrutiny Committees have the additional right to documents, and to notice of meetings as set out in the Access to Information Procedure Rules in Part 4 of this Constitution.

(b) Nothing in this paragraph prevents more detailed liaison between the Executive and Overview and Scrutiny Committee as appropriate depending on the particular matter under consideration.

(c) Overview and Scrutiny Committees shall have access to all relevant background papers and documents considered necessary to make an informed judgement, in the case of any dispute the Monitoring Officer will adjudicate and if the documents are of a confidential nature, members must respect their confidentiality and use them only in relation to the work of that Committee.

(d) Co-opted members can have access to papers relevant to the work of their Committee, but excluding any matter relating to an individual, either client or tenant or member of staff.

13. Members and officers giving account – “Select Committee” mode

(a) Any Overview and Scrutiny Committee may scrutinise and review decisions made or actions taken in connection with the discharge of any Council functions. As well as reviewing documentation, in fulfilling the scrutiny role, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman acting jointly may require any member of the Executive, the head of paid service and/or any senior officer to appear before it to explain in relation to matters within their remit:-

(i) any particular decision or series of decisions;

(ii) the extent to which the actions taken implement Council policy; and/or

(iii) their performance

and it is the duty of those persons to attend if so required.

(b) Where any member or officer is required to attend an Overview and Scrutiny Committee under this provision, the chairman of that committee will inform the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive shall inform the member or officer in writing giving at least 10 working days notice of the meeting at which he/she is required to attend. The notice will state the nature of the item on which he/she is required to attend to give account and whether any papers are required to be produced for the committee. Where the account to be given to the committee will require the production of a report, then the member or officer concerned will be given sufficient notice to allow for preparation of that documentation.

(c) Where, in exceptional circumstances, the member or officer is unable to attend on the required date, then the Overview and Scrutiny Committee shall in consultation with the member or officer arrange an alternative date for attendance as soon as possible.

14. Attendance by others

An Overview and Scrutiny Committee may invite people other than those people referred to in paragraph 13 above to address it, discuss issues of local concern and/or answer questions. It may for example wish to hear from residents, stakeholders and members and officers in other parts of the public sector and shall invite such people to attend. Attendance is optional.

15. Call-in

(a) When a decision is made by the Executive, or a key decision is made by an officer with delegated authority from the Executive, the decision shall be published, including by electronic means, and shall be available at the main offices of the Council normally within 1 day of being made. Copies of the decision bulletin will be sent to all members of the Council within the same timescale, by the Chief Executive.

(b) That notice will bear the date on which it is published and will specify that the decision will come into force, and may then be implemented, on the expiry of five working days after the publication of the decision, unless four members of an Overview and Scrutiny Committee object to it and call it in.

(c) During that period, the Chief Executive shall call-in a decision for scrutiny by the committee if so requested by any four members of the committee, and shall then notify the call-in to the decision-taker and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee. He/she shall call a meeting of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee on such date as he/she may determine or as reserved in the calendar of meetings, where possible after consultation with the chair of the committee, and in any case within 5 working days of the decision to call-in.

A call-in can only be withdrawn unanimously by those members who requested it.

(d) If, having considered the decision, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is still concerned about it, then it may refer it back to the Executive for reconsideration, setting out in writing the nature of its concerns or refer the matter to full Council if outside the policy framework. If referred to the decision maker they shall then, amend the decision or not, before adopting a final decision.

(e) If following an objection to the decision, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee does not refer the matter back to the Executive, the decision shall take effect on the date of the Overview and Scrutiny meeting.

(f) If the matter was referred to full Council and the Council does not object to a decision which has been made, then no further action is necessary and the decision will be effective in accordance with the provision below. However, if the Council does object, the Council will refer any decision to which it objects back to the Executive, together with the Council’s views on the decision. That Committee shall choose whether to amend the decision or not before reaching a final decision and implementing it and a meeting will be convened to reconsider the Council request.

“Call-In” Process

The process is proposed as follows:-

Step 1 A list of Executive decisions will be published and notice given that the decisions will be implemented after five working days from date of publication unless called-in under this procedure.

Step 2 Within the period of five working days, four members of the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee may call a meeting of the Committee to review a decision, by notifying the Chief Executive by telephone, fax, e-mail or letter.

Step 3 Within seven days of the deadline, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will meet and may resolve by majority vote to:-

a) propose an alternative course of action, or
b) request that it be considered and debated by the full Council if the Committee is advised by the Monitoring Officer that the decision is contrary to the Council’s policy framework or is unlawful.

Step 4 If the matter is referred back to the Executive, it must reconsider the decision in the light of the reference from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s decision and would decide whether to change it before adopting a final decision. The chairman (or vice-chairman in their absence) of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is able to attend and address the Executive meeting during discussion of the matter.

Exceptions

(h) In order to ensure that call-in is not abused, nor causes unreasonable delay, certain limitations are to be placed on its use. These are:-

(i) that four elected members of an Overview and Scrutiny Committee (including substitute members) are needed for a decision to be called in;

(ii) An executive decision may only be called-in by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee once.

Call-in and Urgency

(i) The call-in procedure set out above shall not apply where the decision being taken by the Executive is urgent. A decision will be urgent if any delay likely to be caused by the call-in process would seriously prejudice the Council’s or the publics’ interests. The record of the decision, and notice by which it is made public shall state whether in the opinion of the Executive, the decision is an urgent one, and therefore not subject to call-in. The Mayor, in conjunction with the Monitoring Officer, must agree both that the decision proposed is reasonable in all the circumstances and to it being treated as a matter of urgency. In the absence of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor’s consent shall be required, in conjunction with the Monitoring Officer. In the absence of both, the head of paid service or his/her nominee’s consent shall be required, again in conjunction with the Monitoring Officer. Decisions taken as a matter of urgency must be reported to the next available meeting of the Council, together with the reasons for urgency.

(j) The operation of the provisions relating to call-in and urgency shall be monitored annually, and a report submitted to Council with proposals for review if necessary.

16. Procedure at Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings

(a) Overview and Scrutiny Committees (and sub-committees) shall consider the following business:-

(i) minutes of the last meeting;

(ii) declarations of interest;

(iii) responses of the Executive to reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee;

(iv) the business otherwise set out on the agenda for the meeting, with overview items identified and taken first, then select committee mode matters;

(v) consideration of any matter referred to the Committee for a decision in relation to call-in of a decision; and

(vi) questions by the public.

(b) Where the Overview and Scrutiny Committee conducts investigations in select committee mode (e.g. with a view to policy development), the Committee may also ask people to attend to give evidence at Committee meetings which are to be conducted in accordance with the following principles:-

(i) that the investigation be conducted fairly and all members of the committee be given the opportunity to ask questions of attendees, and to contribute and speak;

(ii) that those assisting the committee by giving evidence be treated with respect and courtesy; and

(iii) that the investigation be conducted so as to maximise the efficiency of the investigation or analysis.

(c) Following any investigation or review, the Committee (sub-committee) shall prepare a report, for submission to the Executive and shall make its report and findings public.

17. Questions by the Public

Members of the public can ask questions at Overview and Scrutiny Committees in accordance with the provisions in Standing Orders. The Chairman and/or the Vice-Chairman should be invited to respond to the question.


18. Matters within the remit of more than one Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Invitation of Chairman of other Committee to Participate

Where an Overview and Scrutiny Committee conducts a review or scrutinises a matter which also falls (whether in whole or in part) within the remit of another Overview and Scrutiny Committee, then the Committee conducting the review shall invite the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the other committee(s) (or his/her nominee (s)) to attend its meetings when the matter is being reviewed.