Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Executive held on 12/07/2005
Views of Each Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the Constitution Special Interest Group's Suggestions
Views of each Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the sig's suggestions
1. Each Overview and Scrutiny Committee was consulted on these proposals and indeed their views for improving Committee processes.
The Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee, at its meeting on 14th March 2005, agreed the following observations on the improvements suggested by the SIG:-
the Committee agreed that the existing size of the Committee should be maintained but that this restricts the informality and style of meeting. The Committee noted that work already carried out by the Sub-Committees had been very successful. It was therefore agreed that smaller working groups and workshop mode should be used with less formality where possible, particularly for performance monitoring.
the Committee was in favour of an annual report to Council, Members agreed that this should include both the outcome of reviews and the Executive's responses to the Overview and Scrutiny Committees' observations.
it was agreed that it was not necessary to detail the Corporate objectives on the agendas;
it was agreed that advance notice of questions to Officers should be encouraged but that it should not be mandatory;
the Committee welcomed the proposal to change procedure rules to allow
ommittees to be established without Council approval and that this should be progressed as soon as possible, if possible at the next ordinary Council meeting;
the Committee acknowledged the value of involving members of the public with particular expertise in both previous in-depth studies and their forthcoming work; and
the Committee recognised that more resources for dedicated officer support were needed, but welcomed the provision in the budget of £3,000 to pay expenses.
2. At its meeting on 15th March 2005, the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee views in relation to procedural issues were as follows:-
setting out corporate objectives on all agendas was not considered necessary.
early notice of questions to officers should be encouraged but that this was already done in respect of major issues.
members felt that formality should be maintained at normal Overview and Scrutiny meetings as it produces better conduct and that the present size of the committee was probably about right.
Members agreed that meeting in workshop mode was already done and where workshop mode is adopted, members felt that there could be greater informality.
involving more members of the public – this has already been done e.g. the debate on the future of Milford Hospital but would only support the idea where it was felt appropriate.
in regard to declaration of interests it was agreed that anything that could be done to streamline the process should be encouraged.
regarding the annual review of a Committee’s work Members agreed that this would be useful but emphasised that where the Committee had made observations to the Executive, it would be helpful to be informed of the Executive’s final conclusions.
3. At the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 21st March 2005, there was a general consensus among members that the existing size of the Committee was probably about right, and that formality should continue to be observed. However, this should not preclude the setting up of smaller groups or sub-committees in more informal mode where there was a need for in-depth discussion. There was a general feeling that within the constraints of the system, the Committee had developed and was working well, although some members stated a preference for the ‘old’ committee system.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of effective scrutiny, for example, with the budget process.
The consensus on the key issues was as follows:-
The three committees all felt that they had made excellent progress since the time of the CPA report and assessment of the effectiveness of the overview and scrutiny process in Waverley. In-depth reviews had contributed to policy development in some key areas of service provision to the public and helped improve performance.
Particular areas suggested by the SIG
(i) Agenda format - proposal to include objectives not supported
(ii) Process at meetings
agreed to encourage Members to give notice of questions
level of formality felt to be appropriate
size of Committees felt to be appropriate - but agreed less formal smaller sub-groups useful
workshops- agreed to build on work involving the public
declarations of interest - agreed to streamline
(iii) Annual Review - agreed to support with detail on responses by the Executive to in-depth reviews
(iv) Setting up Sub-Committees - all three Committees felt that they should be able to set up Sub-Committees when this would help their work
This could have significant resource implications for staffing support. The SIG may want to propose a pilot trial for the rest of the Council year, with a review to assess the resource implications.