Setting the Right Priorities for Scrutiny

Yesterday nearly 40 councillors took part in our first ever Scrutiny Work Planning Conference.  This is something that councillors suggested last year as a way to help with the difficult business of prioritising the work of scrutiny.  Ultimately the purpose was to ensure that the biggest difference can be made with the limited resources available 

This year more of the work of scrutiny will be done through informal task and finish groups called Panels and the point of the conference was to look at what these Panels should focus on.

The event started with a presentation which included:

  • How the new Panels were going to work
  • The work planning process
  • Criteria for prioritising topics
  • Possible Panel topics as identified by the scrutiny Boards at their first meetings – these were introduced by the relevant chairs
  • Information on what topics the public consider to be important drawn from Swansea Voices – the Council’s citizen’s panel

Here is the full presentation:

After the presentation councillors worked in groups, armed with information about why topics had been chosen and possible lines of inquiry, to try and narrow down the 18 potential topics into three.  This was challenging of course – but from the feedback it was clear that some common themes were emerging.

The final stage was an opportunity for councillors to ‘dot vote’ for their favourite topics.

 As well as helping with the business of prioritising I think the conference had three other important benefits:

  • Areas of overlap and duplication between ideas suggested by the different boards could be discussed
  • Potential topics could be narrowed down and given sharper focus
  • A much greater awareness across all scrutiny councillors about what topics have been chosen and why

Overall, for a first work planning conference, the event seemed to go really well.  All of the work done will now be considered by the Scrutiny programme Board who will have the final decision on which Panels should be set up.


  1. I think this is a really good idea- we pick our topics in isolation (i.e each committee selects their reviews, which are then agreed by the overarching board), but obviously Members on different committees will have their own ideas on topics outside of their remit. Very impressed that you got 40 councillors together for the session, I imagine many others would find this difficult.

    Surely that is the first use of a Sinclair C5 in a scrutiny presentation? Amazing!

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