Supporting local democracy and good governance

scrutiny viewOur annual report for the last 12 months has now been published. It gives a summary of what we have done, the feedback we have received and the things we want to improve in future. It is an important document for us. It shows that we are transparent in our work and open to scrutiny! We hope it will be of interest to the people we have worked with, other scrutiny practitioners and all those who have taken the time to give us feedback.

As in previous years we have continued with a scorecard approach and can see trends over a number of years. Some of our improved indicators include:

  • Average councillor attendance at scrutiny meetings (72%)
  • Number of chairs letters written to cabinet members (76)
  • Recommendations signed off by scrutiny as completed (80%)
  • Councillors who agree that scrutiny has a positive impact on the business of the Council (84%)
  • Staff who agree that scrutiny has a positive impact on the business of the Council (79%)

The annual report is also a chance to reflect more generally on the last year. In her foreword Councillor Mary Jones, Chair of the Scrutiny Programme Committee, says:

The last year has been a year of improvement and development for scrutiny in Swansea. The single committee system, introduced in 2012, has become a normal part of how we do things and continues to attract interest from other Councils. The Wales Audit Office, as part of their recent corporate assessment, has confirmed that this is a flexible approach to scrutiny that allows councillors to follow their own interests.

Looking forward she says:

Scrutiny continues to be a topic of national significance. The recent Welsh Government White Paper; ‘Power to Local People’ underlines the continuing importance being placed on scrutiny as an essential element of local democracy and good governance. This focus on scrutiny at the national level is very welcome. However, recognition will also have to be given to the increased demands on scrutiny councillors that will come with this increasing role.

Feedback has given us encouragement that we are going in the right direction. Generally people see scrutiny as an important council function that is constructive, supportive, friendly and positive. For example:

  • Good work being carried out – lots of positive evidence coming through
  • Very positive with wide ranging topics across the authority
  • Making an increasingly valuable contribution to the council’s work

Looking forward the annual report highlights six improvement outcomes that scrutiny councillors have agreed, following feedback, for the year ahead:

  1. We need to talk more to cabinet members so that we can plan better and ensure that our work is making a difference
  2. We need to align the work of scrutiny more closely to the five corporate priorities so that we can focus and impact on the things that matter.
  3. We need more briefings and development sessions so that we have the knowledge and skills we need
  4. We need more coverage in the media so that the public are more aware of our work
  5. We need more members of the public contributing to scrutiny meetings so that we can reflect their views in our work
  6. We need closer links with regulators and inspectors so that we can provide a more coordinated and effective challenge

You can download the full report on our publication pages here.

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