Review of 2012 – Overview and Scrutiny Board

Before the first set of scrutiny meetings kick off this year we thought we would look back at the past twelve months and highlight some of the key areas that scrutiny members worked on last year.

Review of Scrutiny Arrangements

14 March 3

The Board’s main focus in 2012 was the review of the Council’s scrutiny arrangements. A member workshop was held in March to gather views and suggestions. The Board agreed a set of changes, which have helped to improve scrutiny procedures throughout the year.  Some of the achievements include:

  • Task & Finish Groups are being used more often and more effectively.
  • Discussions between the Task and Finish Groups and Portfolio Holders are now undertaken before recommendations are considered by Cabinet.
  • Informal working arrangements have been agreed with the Districts/Boroughs to encourage joint working and external member input on county-wide issues.
  • Social Media is being used more frequently and consistently to increase the external focus of scrutiny and encourage more external input:
  • Annual Work Programme sessions now involve Portfolio Holders, Heads of Service and Strategic Directors to identify appropriate areas for scrutiny.
  • OSC agendas are becoming more focused, with less reports ‘for information’ and a more consistent and effective use of briefing notes and Portfolio Holder sessions.

Finance and Performance Working Group

finance-module

Another important development for the Board was the appointment of the Finance and Performance Working Group in May. Previously, each OSC looked at the performance and finance date for each service; however, there was very little time to do this effectively in a Committee-meeting setting and so a dedicated Working Group was appointed to:

  • undertake detailed scrutiny of the Council’s Organisational Health Report, which includes performance, finance and risk information; and
  • raise areas of concern to Cabinet, which may require further scrutiny.

Carrying out performance scrutiny in this way has allowed members greater opportunity to interrogate the data and identify key issues and areas of concern. This has led to greater questioning and accountability of the relevant Portfolio Holder and Heads of Service.

Property Rationalisation Programme

NG street

Members have monitored the Council’s plans to achieve a savings target of £4.3 million by 2014/15 through the modernisation of office accommodation and the sale of currently occupied and vacant buildings.

In October, the Board recommended that all local members should be advised at the earliest stage of any intention to close or sell property within their division, to ensure that they can keep their constituents up-to-date with any changes to the way that Council services will be delivered.

Transformation through Strategic Commissioning

The Council has an ambitious plan to become a Strategic Commissioning Organisation by 2014. Part of this invloves a full review of each Council service, to decide which is the most efficient way of delivering the service, while meeting customer needs.

Members have closely monitored the progress of the Programme and have made recommendations about improving communication and engagement with all members, as the Council progresses through the service reviews.

Before proposals around future service delivery are agreed by the Cabinet, the Board will have the opportunity to look at the proposals and make some recommendations.

Monitoring Recommendations

Members have been closely tracking the implementation of recommendations which they previously made to Cabinet following a Task and Finish Group review. Through this process, members are able to see where their recommendations have had a positive impact on Council services and how they may have helped the community. This process is now being adopted through all of the OSCs.

County Council Meeting – 27th March 2012

Council

The County Council will be meeting next Tuesday 27th March to debate and discuss the County’s finances; including how we can plan our spending over the next two years and how we can help grow the Coventry and Warwickshire economy and reduce unemployment. The Warwickshire Observatory have today released the latest unemployment figures on their blog, which can be found here.

Here’s what is on the agenda for the meeting next Tuesday:

  • Medium Term Financial Plan
  • Treasury Management Strategy 2012/13
  • Coventry and Warwickshire Growing Places Fund
  • Notice of Motion – Internet Access for Young People in Libraries
  • Allocation of Capital Receipts from Surplus Property Disposals ( this is an exempt report, and won’t be open to the public)

The vast majority meeting is open to the public, and will start at 10.00am at Shire Hall, Warwick.

The papers for the meeting can be downloaded here: Council 27th March 2012

For more information, or if you have any questions, contact martynharris@warwickshire.gov.uk

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