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Council's 'critical friend' publishes the highlights of its important work over the past year

Overview and Scrutiny have an important function at Wiltshire Council

Published 19 May 2022

A key function of Wiltshire Council, a 'critical friend' that holds the council's Cabinet to account called Overview and Scrutiny, has published its annual report - having investigated many important issues for Wiltshire throughout the year.

Since its introduction in 2000, the council's Overview and Scrutiny function, made up of a number of non-executive councillors, ensures that council decisions are taken on sound evidence. It is selective in what it looks at so that it can add value to the most important services provided by the council, its partners and contractors. Wherever possible it helps to shape policy through early discussions as well as scrutinising proposals before they are finally agreed.

Overview and Scrutiny's 2021/22 annual report has just been published and it highlights a number of the key projects it has worked on throughout that period. They include:

  • Wiltshire Council's Business Plan - detailed comments were provided
  • Finances - the council's budget and opposition amendments were fully scrutinised to ensure they were sound, and reviewed the impact on services
  • Area Boards - provided scrutiny to proposed changes and how they should function in the future

As well as the overall Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, there are three specialist select committees that cover health and social care, the environment, and children and families.

In 2021/22, the Health Select Committee has been strongly involved in plans for the future health and care model, as well as adult social care. The Children's Select Committee has had a big focus on the provision of accommodation for young people, and reviewed the council's strategy for achieving a rating of Outstanding from Ofsted. The Environment Select Committee scrutinised the process of Wiltshire Council bringing 10 leisure centre back under its management, reviewed the development of the Bus Service Improvement Plan, and considered the effectiveness of the council's highways service over the past 12 months.

Looking ahead, Overview and Scrutiny will be using the council's 10-year Business Plan as a guiding document for their work.

Members of the public can also get directly involved in the process by attending committee meetings, submitting a question before a meeting or giving notice to make a statement on an item on the agenda.

Cllr Graham Wright, Chairman of the of Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, said:

"I'm proud of what we've achieved over the last 12 months and I thank my colleagues for their diligence and commitment.

"Overview and Scrutiny is a fundamental part of how the council operates. We play a key role in ensuring the big decisions that affect residents and their day to day lives are looked at in great detail, and challenged where required in a fair and robust way.

"We'd also very much welcome residents to play their part and get involved too when they can by attending committee meetings, submitting questions and suggesting topics for us to investigate.

"Positive local democracy is in the best interests of everyone and we'll continue to act as the voice of the people in carrying out our important work."

Cllr Ashley O'Neill, Cabinet Member for Governance, said:

"Overview and Scrutiny is a really positive function of our local democracy. Working together is a guiding theme of our Business Plan, and the work of Overview and Scrutiny is an example of councillors doing just that. No matter what political party they represent or if they are an Independent, they work for the best interests of the communities we all serve.

"We look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with Overview and Scrutiny on a number of key pieces of work over the next year."

The full report formally presented to Full Council on 17 May and can be found at Full Council 17 May 2022 agenda and reports (opens new window). More information about Overview and Scrutiny can be found at Overview and Scrutiny.

Cllr Wright also explains the importance and function of Overview and Scrutiny in this short video Overview and Scrutiny - YouTube (opens new window).

If anyone wants to be part of shaping the future work programme of Overview and Scrutiny, they can send suggestions of issues that could be investigated by emailing (opens new window) or contacting the supporting team on 01225 718 052.

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