Annual Report of the Scrutiny Committee 2007/08 - Epsom and ...

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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE


ITEM 06

16 APRIL 2008


ANNEXE



Page
1

of
3

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 2007/08


1.

Introduction


1.1

Scrutiny Committee has throughout 2007/08 continued to undertake various
items of overview and scrutiny on behalf of the Council in order to secure service
improvement and to enhance acc
ountability and transparency of decision making.
Examples of overview and scrutiny undertaken during 2007/08 include policy and
performance review, monitoring of the Council’s audit arrangements and the scrutiny
of decision making. However in addition, t
he Scrutiny Committee has this year
started to consider and take forward work on the Local Government and Public
Involvement in Health Act 2007. A number of provisions of this Act develop further
the responsibilities and powers of overview and scrutiny com
mittees. Early
consideration of this new legislation should prove beneficial for the continued
effective operation of overview and scrutiny at the Council.


1.2

In 2007/08, the work of the Scrutiny Committee has been taken forward by its
five members, Cou
ncillors Graham Dudley (Chairman); David Morgan; Ruby Smith;
Clive Smitheram and Colin Taylor. Attendance at the five formal meetings of the
committee is shown in the table below.



Member



Possible attendance at
meetings



Actual attendance at
meeting
s

Councillor Graham Dudley

5

5

Councillor David Morgan

5

5

Councillor Ruby Smith

5

5

Councillor Clive Smitheram

5

4

Councillor Colin Taylor

5

3



1.3

A more detailed analysis of the work of the Scrutiny Committee undertaken
during 2007/08 is set out

below. As with previous annual reports, the criteria
suggested by the Audit Commission in its Report, ‘Overview and Scrutiny, Epsom
and Ewell Borough Council, October 2003’, have been used.


2.

Effectively Holding Decision Makers to Account


2.1

Included

within the Scrutiny Committee’s terms of reference is a responsibility
to monitor progress on the Council’s Corporate Plan. Previously, to meet this
requirement, Scrutiny Committee members attended meetings of the policy
committees as observers with the
option of including on the following Scrutiny
Committee agenda any matters of concern. However, in July 2007, Scrutiny
Committee agreed to introduce a new arrangement by which to monitor progress
made by the policy committees against their Key Service Pri
orities (KSPs). Utilising
the performance management framework, the Scrutiny Committee is now informed of
any KSPs that are at red. It is also provided with information on any issues raised by
the Financial Policy Panel regarding these KSPs and any remed
ial action that the
policy committees have agreed to undertake. An evaluation of this new arrangement
is planned for later on in 2008.


2.2

On 7 November 2007 Scrutiny Committee used the overview and scrutiny
power to call
-
in a decision of the Leisure Com
mittee made on 29 October 2007.
SCRUTINY COMMITTEE


ITEM 06

16 APRIL 2008


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Scrutiny Committee investigated and considered the matter fully at its public meeting
held on 21 November 2007. Scrutiny Committee concluded that overall the decision
had been made in accordance with the principles of deci
sion
-
making set out in Article
12 of the Constitution and consequently that the decision of the Leisure Committee
could take effect.


3.

Contributing to More Effective Policies


3.1

In April 2008, Scrutiny Committee evaluated the changes made to the call
-
i
n
procedure and the newly introduced call
-
in protocol, both of which were brought into
effect following the Scrutiny Committee review of 2007.


3.2

New powers and responsibilities for overview and scrutiny are included in the
Local Government and Public Invo
lvement in Health Act 2007. Scrutiny Committee
has agreed to consider the implications of these new provisions, which are yet to
come into effect, together with that of intended future Government guidance, as part
of a review of the Scrutiny Function. Th
is work, although started this year will
continue in to the new municipal year. It is intended that this review will also provide
the Committee with the opportunity to consider best practice and to evaluate the
impact that the Committee has secured to dat
e. This, in turn, will enable the Scrutiny
Committee to develop further its practices in the light of the new legislation and to
utilise its resources to best effect.


4.

Improving Services


4.1

During the year Scrutiny Committee became concerned about th
e lack of
progress made against two actions of the Environmental Protection and Community
Enhancement Best Value Improvement Plan. These are actions 19 (Building Control
Plan Checking Performance) and 20 (Processing Building Control Applications). The
Co
mmittee therefore agreed to undertake a review of Building Control in relation to
these two matters.


4.2

Following its investigations, Scrutiny Committee was satisfied with the work
undertaken to date in relation to actions 19 and 20. Scrutiny Committee
reported that
although the targets had not been met, Building Control was managing its workload
efficiently given the staff shortages it has been experiencing since April 2006.
Scrutiny Committee further reported that Building Control can not be expected
to
operate at maximum efficiency in terms of processing applications until such time as
posts are filled. Scrutiny Committee was content with the steps that were being
taken to manage and fill the vacant posts.


4.3

As a result of the review, Scrutiny C
ommittee made two recommendations
concerning the setting of targets:




‘that training in setting targets is continued in an appropriate form at the
Council’





‘that Human Resources be invited to comment where targets have to be
set outside the sole control
of the manager / responsible officer’


5.

Building Links between the Council and the Community


5.1

Scrutiny Committee has continued to allow members of the public to speak
and ask questions at the discretion of the Chairman, on any matter relating to the
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Council’s performance subject to prior notification of their intention to do so. To date
this facility has not been utilised much, although a member of the public did address
the Committee at its November 2007 meeting.


5.2

As mentioned above, in Februa
ry this year Scrutiny Committee agreed to
review the overview and scrutiny function at the Council. The aim of this review is to
examine current and future Scrutiny Committee practices and procedures, roles and
responsibilities in order to develop best pr
actice and to identify those areas of work of
the Committee where its resources should be prioritised.

Links with the community is
included in the scope of this review.


6.

Improving the Quality of life for Local People


6.1

In July 2007, Scrutiny Committ
ee received the end of year report on the
Community Strategy Action Plan 2006/07, drafted and implemented by the Local
Strategic Partnership. The Scrutiny Committee was informed that the majority of
targets had been assigned a green traffic light, but two

targets had been assigned
amber traffic light status. The Local Strategic Partnership intended to continue to
work in these two areas during 2007/08.


6.2

Following receipt of a second letter from the relevant Executive Member at
Surrey County Council rega
rding the maintenance and repair of street lighting in the
Borough, Scrutiny Committee agreed that it did not wish to take any further action
during 2007/08. Scrutiny Committee, however, has asked to be informed when the
anticipated street lighting contra
ct for the replacement of a proportion of the lighting
columns in Surrey is in place and operational. This is to enable the Scrutiny
Committee to consider whether this subject should be revisited.


7.

Adding Value


7.1

It is intended that all work underta
ken by the Scrutiny Committee adds value
to the work of the Council. However, some additional items not covered above, in
the main relating to Scrutiny Committee’s audit responsibilities, are considered to
have added value:




Approval of the Statement of I
nternal Control;



Receipt of the Internal Audit Assurance report;



Sustainability Policy Statement Actions


annual update for Scrutiny
Committee



Internal Audit
-

Monitoring Reports (meetings attended by Internal Auditors)



Internal Audit Plan 2008/09.


8.

Con
clusion


8.1

The Scrutiny Committee wish to thank all those who have contributed to the
work of the Committee during 2007/08. In particular, the Scrutiny Committee should
like to thank all those who have provided evidence to its enquiries and those who
ha
ve attended meetings of the Committee to provide information and advice.