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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 13/11/2001

Article 6 – Overview and Scrutiny Committees
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Article 6 – Overview and Scrutiny Committees


Overview and Scrutiny Committees are a key element of executive arrangements. They are the means by which the Executive is held to account for its decisions on the implementation of Council policy and provide an opportunity for a methodical review of performance and the effectiveness of policies. The Scrutiny function will not however apply to individual decisions of non-executive and other properly constituted committees.

Effective scrutiny is essential to achieve enhanced accountability and transparency of the decision-making process. Overview and Scrutiny Committees also have a key role in the policy development process, in reviewing budgetary and general policies, making recommendations either to the full Council or the Executive on future policy options and providing the framework for accountable, transparent decisions. The Council is committed to establishing a constructive and creative relationship between the executive and scrutiny roles in Waverley.

The guiding principle of the overview and scrutiny function is that the process should make a positive contribution to the work of the Council.

At Waverley, Overview and Scrutiny committees are based on particular functions (e.g. housing and community welfare, environment). The membership is politically proportionate. Overview and Scrutiny responsibilities are a mixture of some being departmental structures and some cross cutting, and are aligned to portfolio holder responsibilities. Each Overview and Scrutiny Committee can divide with the approval of Council into smaller sub-groups to study and report back on a particular topic. Currently, a scheduled meeting of each Overview and Scrutiny Committee is held once a cycle, six times a year, with additional meetings if necessary to discuss called-in matters.


The SIG discussed possible mechanisms at the last meeting and agreed the need for and the principle of some form of “light touch” co-ordinating mechanism and to recommend the Executive as follows:-.

1. The Council is committed to developing a constructive working relationship between the Executive and Overview and Scrutiny. Accordingly, it proposes that a Co-ordinating Mechanism Group should meet ad hoc as and when called by the Leader to discuss issues where the flow of decision-making is complex, typically on cross-cutting issues. The flow of time critical issues would also be discussed.

The Group should consist of the Leader and Deputy Leader with the appropriate Portfolio Holder(s) with the Chairman/men and Vice-Chairman/men of the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee(s), with no substitutes. Officer attendance would be limited to the Chief Executive and Head of Committee and Member Services and appropriate Director(s) or their representatives.

6.01 Terms of reference

The Council will appoint the Overview and Scrutiny Committees set out in the left hand column of the table below to discharge the functions conferred by section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 or regulations under section 32 of the Local Government Act 2000 in relation to the matters set out in the right hand column of the same table.

References: Section 21 and schedule 1 (Paragraphs 7,8,10 and 11), Local Government Act 2000
Chapters 3 and 9, DETR Guidance The SIG has agreed to the above scope for the allocation of portfolios to Overview and Scrutiny Committees, with the aim of improving the balance of workload between the three Committees and providing each with a clear service focus.

6.02 General role

Within their terms of reference, Overview and Scrutiny Committees will:-

(i) review and/or scrutinise decisions made or actions taken in connection with the discharge of any of the Council’s functions;

(ii) make reports and/or recommendations to the full Council and/or the Executive and/or any policy, joint or area committee in connection with the discharge of any functions;

(iii) consider any matter affecting the area or its inhabitants; and

(iv) exercise the right to call-in, for reconsideration, decisions made but not yet implemented by the Executive and/or any policy or area committees.

6.03 Specific functions

(a) Policy development and review. Overview and Scrutiny Committees may:-

(i) assist the Council and the Executive in the development of its budget and policy framework by in-depth analysis of policy issues;

(ii) conduct research, community and other consultation in the analysis of policy issues and possible options;

(iii) consider and implement mechanisms to encourage and enhance community participation in the development of policy options;

(iv) question members of the Executive and Directors about their views on issues and proposals affecting the area; and

(v) liaise with other external organisations operating in the area, whether national, regional or local, to ensure that the interests of local people are enhanced by collaborative working.

(b) Scrutiny. Overview and Scrutiny Committees may carry out their scrutiny role in a variety of modes:-

Select Committee Mode

(i) review and scrutinise the performance of the Council in relation to its policy objectives, performance targets and/or particular service areas;

(ii) question members of the Executive and Directors about decisions or matters within their portfolio or area of responsibility, whether generally or in relation to particular decisions, initiatives or projects;

(iii) make recommendations to the Executive and/or Council arising from the outcome of the scrutiny process;

Call-In Mode

(iv) review and scrutinise the decisions made by the Executive and council officers in relation to individual decisions;

Broader Community Role

(v) review and scrutinise the performance of other public bodies in the area and invite reports from them by requesting them to address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and local people about their activities and performance; and

(vi) question and gather evidence from any person (with their consent).

(c) Finance. Overview and Scrutiny Committees may exercise overall responsibility for the finances made available to them.

(d) Annual report. Overview and Scrutiny Committees shall report annually to full Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods, if appropriate. This will be discussed at a designated meeting in the year.

(e) Officers. Overview and Scrutiny Committees may exercise overall responsibility for the work programme of the officers allocated to support their work. There will be three Overview and Scrutiny Committees which will reflect the portfolios of the Executive. Each Committee will have a maximum of nineteen members and the membership will reflect the political balance of the full Council. The three committees will look at the Council as a whole and take a corporate view of the Council’s services.

6.04 Proceedings of Overview and Scrutiny Committees

The guiding principle of the overview and scrutiny function is that the process should make a positive contribution to the work of the Council. Overview and Scrutiny Committees will conduct their proceedings in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules set out in Part 4 of this Constitution. Overview and Scrutiny Committees may authorise Waverley media releases on their work.