Looking Back, Looking Forward

Last week, to mark European Local Democracy Week, we were tweeting the Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report for 2011/12.  If you want to see the full report you can find it here.

If you are not a tweeter then don’t worry – all it boils down to is that we have summarised the annual report in to ten short statements of 140 characters or less.  We think it is good to be concise –  whether on twitter or not.

Here are the top ten achievements that make up the annual report and were posted on twitter during the course of the week:

  1. Better ways of involving the public in recycling
  2. New ways to help older people maintain their independence
  3. Improving how we share services with partners and other councils
  4. Improving councillors’ corporate parent role for children in care
  5. A range of new ways of improving literacy in schools
  6. A national award for the scrutiny of child and family services
  7. Using social media to increase public awareness and engagement
  8. Contributing to the development of the Community Safety Strategy
  9. Councillors and staff say scrutiny is making more of a difference
  10. Continuing to improve what we do

This last point – ‘continuing to improve what we do’ – refers to the annual report itself.  As well as looking back on what we has been achieved, the annual report also gives us a chance to set out the challenges ahead.  So, looking forward, these will be the challenges for overview and scrutiny during 2011-12:

A New Overview and Scrutiny Structure

The implications of the Local Government Measure (2011) and the need to contribute to the Council’s savings targets means that a more effective structure will be needed for May 2012.  Councillors will be debating proposals over the next few months.

Questioning Strategies

Asking the right questions in the right way is at the heart of effective scrutiny and has been identified as an important focus for improvement.  I will be posting about this in the near future.

Better Engagement

Improved engagement with both citizens and staff can both ensure more effective overview and scrutiny and strengthen engagement with the council more generally.  There are a number of ideas in the pipeline about how this can be done better including by making better use of this blog – so watch this space!

We will be back this time next year to let you know how we have done!

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