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Overview and Scrutiny Committee

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Information about Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Overview and Scrutiny - or Scrutiny for short - is the Council's own watchdog. It can "call-in" decisions for reconsideration, hold inquiries into matters of local concern, review Council services, policies and performance and recommend improvements. Importantly, it also gives local citizens a variety of opportunities to get involved.

 

Our Overview and Scrutiny objectives are:

• To support the Council in achieving its vision for the borough and its strategic aims and priorities

• To promote open and transparent decision-making, democratic accountability and to hold the Executive to account for its actions

• To promote continuous improvement, best practice and innovation with the services, functions and policies which the Council has responsibilities for or influence over

• To take a lead role in reviewing policy and influencing matters of strategic direction

• To monitor performance of the directorates and key performance indicators (undertaken by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Panel)

 

The Council's 14 Member Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC for short) has responsibility for Scrutiny, supported by a range of overview and scrutiny task groups undertaking various scrutiny reviews.  There is also an Overview and Scrutiny Performance Panel which meets quarterly to look at Council performance.  Relevant Executive Members attend to answer questions on their service areas.

 

Overview and Scrutiny - what it does

The scrutiny structure aims to support the Council in making its vision a reality and achieving its aims and key priorities.

 

Members involved in the Overview and Scrutiny committee and its task groups will work to promote an open and transparent Council, drive for democratic accountability and hold the Executive to account for decisions.

They will do this by examining policies and actions and, where necessary, using the "call-in" power to review specific decisions. The Overview and Scrutiny committee can decide whether the decision in question was appropriate and, though it does not have the power to overrule members of the Executive, it can extend considerable influence and recommend members look at the issue again.

 

Scrutiny ensures that the council services are achieving better customer satisfaction and value for money and is used to review these functions, monitor council performance and ensure standards are being met.

 

Importantly, Scrutiny can offer citizens a direct route to get involved in the work of the Council by holding inquiries into matters of public concern which could lead to reports and recommendations advising the Executive on any matter.

 

Scrutiny does not deal with individual complaints, which must be made through the Council's complaints procedure.

 

Other matters not suitable for scrutiny include those subject to legal proceedings such as applications for licensing and planning approval.

 

The call-in process

Providing a "check and balance" function for decisions made by the Council's Executive is an important part of scrutiny.

 

One of the most effective powers which enables members of the Overview and Scrutiny committee to do this is "call in". This arrangement allows members to refer back any decision taken by the Executive for reconsideration by the body or person who made it.

 

Alternatively, the Overview and Scrutiny committee can review a decision themselves or refer the decision to the full Council to review it. In Chorley, call-in requests can be made by any member of the Council or the community within five days of the publication of a decision, to do this please complete our general enquiry form selecting "call in a request".

 

For a copy of the form click here  https://democracy.chorley.gov.uk/documents/s52539/ApplicationFormandGuidanceNoteforCallin.docx.pdf

 

 

The call-in process is designed to make it easy to use while providing safeguards against abuse. A call in request must say why there is an objection and present an alternative decision or proposal for consideration. All requests must be made in writing and received by the Democratic services Manager, Town Hall, Market Street, Chorley, PR7 1DP, within five working days of the decision being made.

 

All requests are considered initially by the chair of the Overview and Scrutiny committee.  Those that will be rejected include:

• Frivolous, defamatory, incomplete

• Outside the scope of the procedure

• Otherwise inappropriate for consideration

 

Requests accepted by the chair will be submitted to a special meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny committee.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny committee may decide itself to review a decision within two months of it being made and formulate recommendations for the Executive or the body or person who made it.

 

Where the Overview and Scrutiny committee refers a decision back, the decision-maker is under obligation to reconsider it and no steps may be taken to implement it until it has been reconsidered. However, there is no requirement to change the decision and it may be implemented once it has been reconsidered. It cannot be called in again.

 

If a decision is referred to full Council, members will decide at their next meeting whether to review or scrutinise the decision and, if so, when and how. In this case, however, there is no requirement to defer acting on the decision.

 

The procedure only applies to decisions regarding the Executive. It does not apply to decisions made by:

• Development Control Committee

• Licensing and Public Safety Committee

• Governance Committee

• General Purposes Committee

• Licensing Act 2003 sub-committee

• General Licensing sub-committee

 

Nor does it apply to:

• Decisions which have already been implemented or previously called in

• Decisions where reconsideration would be seriously prejudicial to the interests of the Council, public or other person or body as certified by the Chief Executive.

 

Topics, guidance and how to get involved

Selecting topics for scrutiny is one of the key steps in achieving success within the structure.  The Overview and Scrutiny committee and its task groups aim to add value to the work of the Council overall and result in real benefits to people in Chorley.  Getting the selection right will therefore help to achieve those objectives.  Getting it wrong could result in wasted time on a project that delivers little value to either the Council or public as a whole. The Overview and Scrutiny committee must also consider the capacity of members and officers when setting the annual work programme to ensure topics are dealt with in a thorough and effective way.

 

Overview and Scrutiny criteria for selecting topics include:

• Are improvements for local people likely?

• Does the topic fall under community or corporate priorities?

• It is a key issue for people?

• Does it look at a poor performing service?

• Is there a high level of dissatisfaction?

 

Once a topic has passed through selection and rejection criteria members consider in more detail the reasons for the topic being suggested, evidence in support of it and the likely outcomes. They then prioritise the topics to decide which to examine in detail and include in the work programme. Anyone can suggest topics to be considered by members of the Overview and Scrutiny committee and its task groups – but there are things that the Overview and Scrutiny committee does not do. Suggestions can then be made to Scrutiny on line or in writing by contacting us.

 

Guidance

More detailed guidance can be found in our Overview and Scrutiny - Information and Guidance, which is particularly useful for people taking part in the process.

 

Get involved

Residents in Chorley have an important part to play in scrutiny and can get involved in the process in a number of ways.

 

People can:

• Suggest a topic for scrutiny

• Request 'call-in' of an Executive decision

• Attend meetings

• Take part in any scrutiny fact-finding forums

• Submit written evidence to enquiries where invited

• Offer to appear as a witness where invited

 

Details of all Overview and Scrutiny committee and task groups, the work programme and agendas are regularly updated on this website or can be obtained from Democratic Services, contact us.  You can request a "call in" or a topic for scrutiny by completing our general enquiry form and selecting "call in a request".  You can also contribute to a current inquiry by contacting Democratic Services. Investigation findings and reports will also be published on this website as they become available.