Planning Another Year’s Work of Scrutiny

 

The new Scrutiny Boards have all now had their first meetings.

It was good to get off the ground and meet the many new faces on the Council.  The councillors on each Board were meeting as a team for the first time and the agenda was focussed on making sure that there was a good understanding of the new structure, the role of the Board, the scrutiny process, and support provided.

The first task of each of the Boards is to develop a work plan for the year. Before getting into the discussion each of the Boards had the opportunity to hear from key members of the Corporate Management Team. Presentations were made by Directors on service priorities and key challenges, highlighting issues of concern or interest. This advice was important in helping the Boards to identify the issues that they may want to concentrate on.

Board members were provided with guidance about the types of activity that could make up a work plan and advice about how they might prioritise their work. In order to identify priorities the Boards had access to ideas coming from the previous scrutiny boards, views from the public (from the Swansea Voices citizens’ panel survey), as well as the views of directors and councillors around the table.

One of the things highlighted was the distinction between Board meetings and Panels:

  • Board meetings will typically enable opportunities for questions on a board range of policy and service issues based on written reports, include a range of monitoring activities, and for providing challenge and holding to account of Cabinet Members.
  • On the other hand, Board can set up informal Panels for in-depth examination of specific areas of concern, where a small task and finish group will be formed to undertake a discrete time-limited review, with a programme of evidence gathering, leading to production of a scrutiny report with recommendations for improvement. 

Another issue of importance was planning and preparation for meetings (e.g. developing questioning strategies). This is something that the team will be working with Board members in the coming weeks to develop, building on the positive experiences had over the last few years. 

Following the work planning discussions each of the Boards was clear about the sort of things they would look at and were able to identify a number of proposals for Panel work.

The Scrutiny Boards will be meeting every 4 weeks. The second round of meetings will take place soon. At these meetings the programme of work for the year ahead will be agreed, including what Panels will be set up to undertake in-depth work.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsi-r/4767700249/

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