What are Scrutiny Councillors planning to look at this year?

A new work programme has now been agreed, with a varied selection of topics that councillors plan to look at over the coming year. It represents strategic issues balanced with community concerns to ensure that scrutiny is always looking at the right things. But before we get to that, a little about how we got here…

In June a Scrutiny Work Planning Conference was held.  Every year we invite all scrutiny councillors to participate in an informal discussion on priorities for scrutiny, and invite suggestions.  It’s always important to look back at the previous plan, consider the council’s corporate priorities, and think about views from the public, which we gather through various consultations.

It’s the responsibility of our Scrutiny Programme Committee, chaired by Councillor Mary Jones, to agree a work programme. Taking note of feedback from the conference and guiding principles (strategic and significant, focused on issues of concern, and representing a good use of scrutiny time and resources) the Committee agreed the programme at its meeting on 9 July.

The Committee recognised the importance of aligning scrutiny work more closely to the corporate priorities, but retaining a balance so there is room to look at issues of community concern.

The new work programme

The committee agreed to continue with the previous Performance Panels, these include

  1. Service Improvement & Finance –  a monthly meeting, Convener Cllr Chris Holley
  2. Schools – a monthly meeting, Convener Cllr Mo Sykes
  3. Adult Services – a monthly meeting, Convener Cllr Peter Black
  4. Child & Family Services – meets every two months, Convener Cllr. Paxton Hood-Williams
  5. Development & Regeneration – meets every two months, Convener Cllr. Jeff Jones
  6. Public Services Board (multi-agency meeting) – meetings quarterly, Convener Cllr. Mary Jones

The committee anticipates completion of two in-depth inquiries this municipal year, one on the Natural Environment and second on Equalities, with a further identified that will look at Community Regeneration. These will call for a range of evidence gathering and lead to a final report with conclusions and recommendations for Cabinet.

In terms of one-off Working Groups, a list of issues have been identified and prioritised and will be undertaken over the coming year.

  1. Residents Parking
  2. Air & Noise Pollution
  3. Welfare Reform
  4. Environmental Enforcement
  5. Tourism
  6. Anti-Social Behaviour
  7. Digital Inclusion
  8. Archive Service

The Committee itself will continue to focus on holding cabinet members to account and has developed a schedule of question and answer sessions for each of its monthly meetings.

Swansea is also involved in two regional Regional Scrutiny Bodies:

  • Education Through Regional Working – Swansea scrutiny is involved in a regional scrutiny arrangement with the six councils participating in the ‘Education Through Regional Working’ (ERW) school improvement consortium. A Scrutiny Councillor Group has been set up in order to coordinate scrutiny work across the region and ensure a consistent approach.  The next meeting, taking place on 10 September 2018, will be hosted by Neath Port Talbot Council.
  • Swansea Bay City Deal – A Joint Scrutiny Committee has recently been established which will involve three councillor representatives from each of the four Councils involved in the City Deal meeting to scrutinise the work of the Joint Committee responsible for delivering the City Deal Programme. The Joint Scrutiny Committee will be
    serviced by Neath Port Talbot Council, which they will arrange in due course.

We’ll be blogging again on the key scrutiny activities taking place and their impact, so watch this space!

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