Overview and Scrutiny
Overview and scrutiny is a statutory activity of the council. Its powers and responsibilities are set out in the council's constitution, the relevant sections can be viewed on the Democratic Services Online Document Library (Part 2 Article 6, and Part 8).
Wiltshire council is run by an elected leader and cabinet, often referred to as the council's executive. These are powerful positions taking key decisions on behalf of the people of Wiltshire, and it is therefore appropriate that they are held to public account for their actions. This is done through the council's overview and scrutiny function, which is undertaken by the non-executive councillors, and others invited to help.
The overview and scrutiny process is supported by a small, dedicated team of officers. They provide:
- policy advice
- undertake research
- write reports
- take meeting notes
- produce meeting agendas
The overview and scrutiny team make sure that decisions are taken based on sound evidence, include the views of those with an interest in the matter, and are in the best interests of the people of Wiltshire. It has powers to require decision-makers to attend meetings, answer questions, and provide written evidence on any matter under review. This can also be from other agencies and contractors, often referred to as partners, who are delivering public services in Wiltshire. Overview and scrutiny can also seek the advice of experts outside the council, to help it in its work.
The overview and scrutiny team do not make decisions, they publishes findings and recommendations which must receive a response. Its meetings are conducted in a respectful and non-adversarial way, demonstrating constructive challenge of the executive or the council's partners. Most of its meetings are held in public.
Overview and scrutiny are selective in what topics they look at, so they can add value to the council's biggest priorities. Wherever possible they help shape council policies when they are first being designed, as well as scrutinising proposals before they are finally agreed. A list of the topics which will be considered by overview and scrutiny is published in its forward work programme.
The work programme focuses on the commitments given by the council in its Business plan and approaches its work in the following way:
- better outcomes for the people of Wiltshire
- adds value to the way decisions are reached
- works constructively with the cabinet
- challenges positively as a critical friend
- bases its findings on good evidence
- learns from others
The forward work programmes for the scrutiny committees are published on the Wiltshire Council website and are accessible on the Overview & Scrutiny: Document OS Forward Work Programmes page.
A lot of the work is done by small groups of elected members from across the political parties reviewing single specific issues in detail. These groups then report to the select committees and make recommendations for improvement to the cabinet and others as necessary.
You can access their final reports and the executive responses received by viewing the Overview and Scrutiny - task group and rapid scrutiny exercises final reports (cms.wiltshire.gov.uk) page.
Overview and Scrutiny committees can 'call in' decisions made by Cabinet - but not yet implemented - to enable further consideration of the facts. Call-in enables non-executive councillors to ensure that the principles of decision making set out in the council's Constitution are adhered to.
Call-in is intended to be used in exceptional circumstances when councillors are concerned that the principles of decision making have not been followed and when representations to the decision maker about this have not resolved the issue.
Take a look at our Guide to the Call-in process web page or download the document which includes the call in request form.
CCfA is a process that enables councillors to deal with issues of concern in their local communities. When concerns arise - either as a result of information from individuals, community groups or the councillor's own observations, they are able to trigger a response from service providers and ensure the concerns are dealt with. What makes the CCfA different from a more general request for scrutiny is the focus of the CCfA is on neighbourhood or locality issues, and specifically the quality of public service provision at a local level.
CCfA is only used as a last resort. The CCfA should represent a genuine local community concern - based on local councillors' judgements - and be a persistent problem that a local councillor has not been able to resolve through local action and discussion with the cabinet or relevant services and agencies.
Take a look at our Guide to the CCfA process in the download section.
We actively publicise overview and scrutiny activities, and promote our successes through our Document - Overview and Scrutiny Annual Reports, and the council's communications team, who engage in social media as appropriate
The team that supports overview and scrutiny are:
- Henry Powell - Democracy and Complaints Manager
- Simon Bennett - Senior Scrutiny Officer
- Marie Gondlach - Senior Scrutiny Officer
- Julie Bielby - Senior Scrutiny Officer
If you wish to know more about overview and scrutiny, including committee and task group responsibilities, you can contact us at:
Tel: 01225 718 052