Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee – 14th July 2015

The County Council has four overview and scrutiny committees (OSC) which review and scrutinise the provision of public services in Warwickshire. Three of the four committees will meet during next week. The first of these is the Communities OSC, which will meet at Shire Hall in Warwick at 2pm on 14th July. This Committee has a broad remit covering Fire & Rescue, Community Safety, Trading Standards, Transport and Highways, Economic Development and Environment, Adult Learning, Libraries, Heritage, and Tourism.

The Committee will discuss proposed review topics for the year ahead, both for items at the Committee and focussed review work through ‘task and finish’ groups. The agenda includes an update on Safer Routes to Schools. Last year, a task and finish group made recommendations, which were approved by the Cabinet on criteria for funding safety schemes both on the routes to schools and in the immediate vicinity of the schools. This report will also show the impact of speed activated safety signage on motorists, with the outcome of trials at Burton Green. 

The Committee will review the One Organisational Plan End of Year Performance Report and receive its regular update on the work of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Further details for the meeting can be obtained by clicking this Link.

Warwickshire Police and Crime Panel Annual Report 2014/15

The second Annual Report of the Warwickshire Police and Crime Panel has been published and is available here.

Since 2013/14, the Panel has overcome the initial challenges of being a new body in a new world and has become increasingly confident in its role. The Panel has pro-actively identified where it can add value to policing strategy and priorities in Warwickshire, in addition to fulfilling its statutory obligation to hold the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner – Mr Ron Ball – to account.

This report outlines the Panel’s key activities and achievements throughout the year and the positive work undertaken by a number of sub-groups that have been established by the Panel to effectively contribute to the Commissioner’s policies and core areas of work.

The Annual Report will be considered at Annual Council on 19 May – this meeting is open to the public and details are available here.

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Get Involved

 Meetings of the Police and Crime Panel are open to the public and allow for questions to be asked. For further details or meetings and how to participate, please visit the dedicated web page here.

Communities OSC topics for July

The Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets on 2nd July, with a focus on two key themes.

The Priority Families Programme (known nationally as the troubled families programme) is coming under scrutiny with an update on the comparative position in Warwickshire, the funding available and how this scheme has made a difference. Sustaining the programme and the challenges ahead will also be discussed.

Part-night street lighting provides the other key topic. Following the phased introduction of this scheme, the report will provide data after the first full year of operation County-wide. The areas covered in this report are crime data, road safety and the financial savings achieved. An update on LED lantern replacements will also be provided through this paper.

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

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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

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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.

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