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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 13/11/2001
REVIEW OF OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY ARRANGEMENTS - REPORT OF DISCUSSION BY THE NEW CONSTITUTION SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (SIG)



This report sets out the outcome of discussion at a meeting of the constitution SIG held following the reference back from the Council meeting on 16th October of the Executive Committee’s recommendations for changing the structure of Overview and Scrutiny. It suggests improved ways of managing the overview and scrutiny process, within the existing structures. It has no immediate additional resource, crime and disorder or environmental implications.
APPENDIX B

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - 13TH NOVEMBER 2001

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Title:
REVIEW OF OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY ARRANGEMENTS - REPORT OF DISCUSSION BY THE NEW CONSTITUTION SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (SIG)

[Wards Affected: N/A]
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Summary and Purpose

This report sets out the outcome of discussion at a meeting of the constitution SIG held following the reference back from the Council meeting on 16th October of the Executive Committee’s recommendations for changing the structure of Overview and Scrutiny. It suggests improved ways of managing the overview and scrutiny process, within the existing structures. It has no immediate additional resource, crime and disorder or environmental implications.
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Introduction

1. The Executive Committee recommendations from its meeting on 9th October 2001 were referred back by the Council for “reconsideration, and that the New Constitution SIG be asked, as a matter of urgency, to find better ways of managing the overview and scrutiny process within existing structures”.

2. The SIG met on 5th November, and worked through both issues of principle and the Overview and Scrutiny Constitution Article and Procedure Rules, and has devised a range of process improvements to meet the problems which were identified at an earlier meeting. These problems were reported to the Executive Committee meeting on 9th October, as follows:-

A need for a greater feeling of participation by backbench members in decision-making.
Positive contribution of the overview function should be emphasised.
Improvements could be made to the scrutiny function to emphasise the more positive select committee role in preference to the call-in role.
Perceived uneven distribution of workload between the three Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
The feeling that more reviewing and debating of policy in depth had been conducted under the old committee structure.

3. The SIG has now produced proposals covering the following:-

Relationship of Overview and Scrutiny and the Executive
Revised Terms of Reference of the three Committees
Clarified responsibility for Best Value
Developing the roles of the committee and the vice-chairman
The need for further training for members
New reporting mechanisms for the committees
A coordinating mechanism for complex issues

Overview and Scrutiny and Executive Relationship

4. The SIG has discussed the relationship between the Executive and Overview and Scrutiny arms of the Council, and feels that this is fundamental to successful working of the new executive arrangements.

5. The SIG has proposed a redefined relationship where Overview and Scrutiny is recognised as a resource for the whole Council, which can help the Executive in its new role and also use the knowledge and ability of a broader range of members than is otherwise possible under the new executive arrangements. It can offer this broader range of members an opportunity to input into policy review and development.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees - Terms of Reference

6. Whilst the SIG did not feel that a complete change of structure of Overview and Scrutiny Committees was necessary, it acknowledged the perception that workload currently is distributed unevenly between the three committees. The SIG also discussed the difficulties early in the pilot that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee had in finding its role.

7. Accordingly, it has suggested a reallocation of Terms of Reference of the three Committees, as set out in Annexe 1, which includes a commentary on the new roles.

8. It has also recognised the particular role the Executive has in retaining primary responsibility for best value, but is suggesting that the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee should overview the processes for best value, and that reviews of individual services would be looked at by the appropriate service Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Roles

9. The SIG has recognised the unusual nature of the arrangements for chairing Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and suggested that the role of vice-chairmen should be developed and recognised. It suggests that Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen should in future work in a more explicit joint role than under the traditional committee structure.

10. The SIG has also suggested that the Executive might wish to notify the proposed Independent Panel on Members’ Allowances of this developing role when the panel reviews members’ allowances and in particular special responsibility allowances.

11. The SIG has also reviewed the reporting arrangements for Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and suggested that the developing role of Overview and Scrutiny in its Overview and Select Committee roles is better recognised by the Committees reporting their views to the Executive, rather than submitting reports to every Council meeting. However, all three committees will submit an annual report on their work to the full Council.

12. The SIG has discussed Members’ training needs in working in the new arrangements, and suggested officers draw up a training programme available to all members.
Coordinating Mechanism

13. The SIG is suggesting an ad-hoc mechanism which could be used to coordinate the flow of business, particularly with regard to cross-cutting issues, through the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee(s) and the Executive where necessary. This would be a light touch approach, but could help smooth the flow of business through the arrangements.

Overview and Scrutiny Constitution - Article and Procedure Rules

14. A suggested draft Constitution Article and Procedures Rules are attached at Annexes 2 and 3. The SIG suggests to the Council that it might wish to review these arrangements six months after the planned implementation in December 2001, that is around June 2002.

Resource Implications

15. The proposed process changes have no additional resource implications to those already identified in earlier reports.

Conclusion

16. The Executive Committee is asked to review the process changes suggested by the SIG, and if satisfactory in principle, adopt the proposals and Constitution Article and Procedure Rules, or alternatively to give guidance to the SIG on how it would wish to see the Overview and Scrutiny process improved.

17. The whole new constitution document will be submitted to the next meeting of the Executive on 4th December for recommendation to the Council meeting on 17th December for formal adoption. The Council will then move from its pilot to its full Executive arrangements.

Recommendation

The Committee is recommended to review the proposals for process improvements put forward by the SIG.
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Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mr R Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222
E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk