Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Cabinet Decision: 14th February 2008
Title of Item/Report
Scrutiny Developments
Record of the Decision
Members considered a report that presented a summary of recent scrutiny developments and recommended that Housing and Community Safety Select Committee be the committee to fulfil the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Committee and that further reports be presented on Calls for Action.

Cabinet was reminded that the past year had seen the publication of the White Paper "Strong and Prosperous Communities", the implementation of the Police and Justice Act and the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act. These new developments looked to strengthen the role of scrutiny and the powers of Overview and Scrutiny Committees.

An extension of scrutiny powers was proposed in two main policy areas. Firstly, the "place shaping role" of a Council whereby an Authority would be able to oversee relevant aspects of the work of named agencies which were covered by a statutory duty to co-operate and secondly a Councillor's community leadership role whereby he/she would be able to refer a call for action.

It was explained that the Police and Justice Act required every Local Authority to have a committee to review or scrutinise decisions made by the Local Authority in connection with the discharge of their crime and disorder functions and to make reports or recommendations to the local authority. A local Authority or other body must consider and have regard to the report or recommendations and respond to the committee indicating what if any action it proposes to take. It was agreed that the Council's Housing and Community Safety Select Committee should fulfil this role.

There had been a strong emphasis in the recent legislation on developing the role of Local Authorities in relation to external scrutiny and specifically scrutiny of LAA partners in relation to local improvement targets.

Members noted some of the provisions of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act including those relating to Community Calls for Action:-

• creation of a statutory framework within which the Government's new performance framework could operate across all the main bodies involved in delivering local public services.
• power to overview and scrutiny committees to request information from LAA partners in relation to local improvement targets and make reports and recommendations to partners who, in turn, have a duty to consider them and respond.

• requirement of the Authority or Executive to consider and publish a response to an overview and scrutiny report or recommendations within a 2 month period following receipt of the report or recommendations.

• abolishing the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health and imposing a duty on each local authority to appoint an independent organisation to develop and support Local Involvement Networks (LINks).

• strengthening the powers for frontline councillors to refer matters affecting their area for scrutiny.

• enabling any Member of the Council to refer to an overview and scrutiny committee a "local government matter" which falls within the committee's remit.

It was explained that further reports would be presented to Members on Community Calls for Action following the receipt of Guidance and the issuing of Regulations by the Secretary of State.

Members were reminded that in relation to in depth scrutiny reviews, input had, to date, been sought in the following ways:

• A standing item on Select Committee agendas
• All members have been asked for suggestions for topics
• CMT and HOS have been asked for ideas (Employees have input via line manager/HOS/CD)
• Quasi judicial committees have been asked for suggestions
• Consultation with Health Partners
• Members of the public (though the scrutiny website/ Stockton News/ Scrutiny leaflets and publications)

Given the increasing emphasis on external scrutiny and the new legal powers for partnership scrutiny (e.g. scrutiny of Tees Valley Unlimited), Renaissance had also been asked for their input into the work programme of in depth scrutiny reviews for 2008/09.

Members noted that, together with existing pressures, the issues identified above created pressures that had implications for the resourcing of the scrutiny function. All of these pressures needed to be taken into account, (given that the scrutiny function was presently working at full capacity), so that a realistic and achievable work programme could be set.

RECOMMENDED to Council that:-

1. that the Housing and Community Safety Select Committee be the committee to fulfil the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Committee.

2. further reports on Councillor Calls for Actions be presented to Executive Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet following the receipt of Guidance and Regulations.
Reasons for the Decision
To update Members on legislative developments and meet the requirements of the Police and Justice Act.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
None
Declared (Cabinet Member) Conflicts of Interest
None
Details of any Dispensations
Not Applicable
Date and Time by which Call In must be executed
Not Applicable
Attachment

Date of Publication: 18 February 2008


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