Scrutiny Annual Report for 2012/13

We’ve just published our Scrutiny Annual Report for 2012-13.

The report brings together all the major pieces of scrutiny we’ve done over the past year, including in-depth reviews of Council and local health services, the performance of individual departments, and the ongoing improvement of services.

Read the report here: Scrutiny Annual Report 2012-13

Scrutiny Annual Report

Scrutiny primer

I’m a little conscious of banging on about what scrutiny is all the time on this blog so here’s a quick run-down for those who don’t know:

  • In summary, scrutiny is one of the building blocks of local democracy. It holds local leaders to account for the decisions they make, challenges performance, and makes suggestions to improve services.
  • The Centre for Public Scrutiny have a nice introduction here: www.cfps.org.uk/introduction-to-scrutiny
  • And we’ve done an introduction to our own work here: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/osexplained

Get Involved

Councillors are currently considering what they want to scrutinise over the next 12 months. If you want to get involved and send us your ideas, either leave us a comment below or email us at democraticservices@warwickshire.gov.uk

Review of 2012 – Communities

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.

Street Lighting

Streetlighting

Part-night street lighting was one of the Council’s most controversial policies of 2012 and it looks as though that will continue through 2013 as the programme is rolled out across the County.

Towards the end of last year a group of Councillors were tasked with looking at the proposals and consider a number of areas including; alternative technologies, the impact on crime and road safety, and the level of savings that would be achieved. The group made a series of recommendations that focused on keeping residents safe and improving communication with the public.

The full report can be read here: Street Lighting Task and Finish Group Report

The issue provoked a lot of negative press attention over the Christmas break and, in response, the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be hosting a special Q&A session with the Cabinet member and street lighting engineers to give people a chance to have an input.

Subsidised Bus Services

Bus Stop

In 2011-12 the budget for subsidised bus services was hit with a major reduction of 45%. Good public transport links are vital for many people in the County and Councillors wanted to know what they could do to help the situation.

A small group of members, working closely with Transport Operations officers, put together proposals for an innovative, low cost set of evening bus services that would run on Friday and Saturday evenings. The services were designed to reduce transport inequality and support the night-time economy across Warwickshire. The Cabinet agreed to consider the proposals as part of the 2013 budget so we’ll soon find out if the proposals become a reality.

The full report can be read here: Bus Services Report

Libraries

Libraries

2012 changed the face of the library network in Warwickshire. We saw the introduction of 12 community libraries that are being run by local community groups, opening hours changed across the County, and the first stages of the mobile library service reconfiguration have been agreed. Scrutiny members have been working to ensure the best possible service is delivered to local people, despite big reductions in funding.

Fire & Rescue

Fire

Warwickshire’s Fire and Rescue Service has been through a period of major structural change and has faced some significant challenges over the past twelve months – but despite this the service has been an open and forthcoming scrutiny partner.

Scrutiny has been involved at every stage of the ongoing implementation of the Fire & Rescue Service Improvement Plan and the updated Integrated Risk Management Plan, and continues to work with the service on keeping Warwickshire residents safe.

Spreading The Word

YouTube

2012 also saw the debut of scrutiny updates on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot about how to better connect with people and this was one of our favourite ideas – it’s quick, free and has the potential to reach a lot of people who would never think of coming to one of our meetings in person. Giving more people the opportunity to find out what goes on at our scrutiny meetings will hopefully lead to more people getting involved in future scrutiny work.

Scrutiny videos are posted on our blog and you can find them on the WCC YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/Warwickshirenews

Scrutiny visit to Warwickshire Fire and Rescue HQ

Last week, members of the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee were given a tour of the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters in Leamington Spa. Fire and Rescue is a major part of the Committee’s remit and visits like this give members an opportunity to learn about the service from the officers on the ground.

The video gives a quick look at what we saw on the tour and includes some thoughts from Gary Phillips, Deputy Chief Fire Officer; Councillor John Whitehouse, Chair of the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee; and Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety.

Warwickshire Scrutiny on YouTube

Something a bit different from this week’s Communities Overview and Scrutiny meeting – Councillor John Whitehouse, the Chair of the Committee was filmed by one of our Communications team (just on an iPod touch – no expensive specialist equipment necessary these days!) talking about the issues that were looked at by Councillors in the meeting.

We’ll be posting these short video summaries following most of our Scrutiny Committees from now on to give people a bit of an idea of the kind of work that goes on in these meetings. As a team we’re very aware that a lot of this kind of stuff is somewhat of a mystery to a lot of people out there but we’re trying to change that.

If you like the idea or have some suggested improvements – just let us know by leaving a comment below.

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