Agenda item

Scrutiny Work Programme


A report by the Chair of the Committee updated Members on progress made in delivering and implementing the Scrutiny Work Programme and the wider Scrutiny Work Programme including the activities of the other three Policy and Performance Committees.  Members were requested to consider the proposals for the Work Programme detailed in the report.


At the last ordinary meeting of the Committee held on 3 September 2014, a number of items had been considered for inclusion in the Committee’s Work Programme including decision-making by Constituency Committees and Cumulative Impact Policy. (Minute No. 21 refers.)  Since then there had been six Special meetings held to deal with a number of decisions that had been subject to call-in.  Due to this additional activity, there has been limited capacity to progress any of the proposed review items in the Work Programme and no task and finish work had been progressed.


A further item of work had been proposed for inclusion in the Committee’s Work Programme. This was for Members to explore ways in which pre-decision scrutiny could be more widely promoted and channelled through the Policy and Performance Committees in support of the Council’s on-going improvement agenda.


An updated Work Programme was included with the report as Appendix 1. It highlighted the additional meetings scheduled to deal with call-ins. It also detailed the potential review topics.  Members were requested to consider initiating a task and finish group in relation to one of the potential review items



The most up to date Work Programmes of the other three Policy and Performance Committees were attached to the report as Appendix 2 – 4. They followed the standard format setting out scheduled and potential review items, Officer reports and standard agenda items. In reviewing these Programmes, Members noted that the varying scope and levels of activity across the Committees was evident.


The Committee was asked to give consideration to its constitutional function to:


‘Determine the overall work programme of the Policy and Performance

Committees, including ensuring there is an overall planned approach to in depth reviews.’


Also, included in the report was the progress made against the recommendations arising from the Individual Electoral Registration Scrutiny Review for Members’ information.


The Chair reminded the Committee that it had rescheduled its meetings so that they were held last in each committee cycle and it was able to reflect on the work that had been carried out by the other three Policy and Performance Committees.  She queried whether regular reports on performance were enough but at the same time accepted that because the work of the Committee had been dominated by reviewing key decisions that had been called in, there had been little time left to complete other work. 


However, on a positive note, the Chair drew attention to Rochdale Council being put into ‘special measures’ and that it had been identified that it had a culture of no challenge.  She informed that this was not something that Wirral Council could be accused of, in the light of the number of Call-in meetings that had been held during this Municipal Year.


Members identified that more co-ordination was needed e.g. alcohol consumption and ill health. 


The Chair referred to the wide remit of the Policy and Performance Committee – Families and Wellbeing and to concerns about it being able to adequately scrutinise it all.  It was noted that some remodelling had been carried out in order to redress this but capacity was still an issue.  The Panels established did receive regular reports on various different aspects of policy.  Three major pieces of work had been scoped and another piece would be scoped soon.  It was noted that the Spotlight Sessions had been successful and it was hoped that the Committee would carry out more pre decision scrutiny.


In respect of the Policy and Performance Committee – Transformation and Resources its Chair reported that, its Terms of Reference and resulting workload was considered manageable.  The Committee had completed some interesting work and a further scoping meeting was scheduled for later in the week.


In respect of the Policy and Performance Committee – Regeneration and Environment the Chair reported that it had carried out more work on pre decision scrutiny last year.  There were time constraints but there was more work that could be undertaken.  It was difficult but it was recognised that the process was still evolving.


A Member asked for the definition of pre scrutiny.


A Member drew attention to the fact that so much of the Work Programme related to health matters and that some Councils now had a Committee that focused entirely on health overview and scrutiny.  If the Council wanted to be more robust, perhaps it should consider doing the same.




That the contents of the report be noted.

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