Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Select Committee Framework Task & Finish Panel
Monday, 21st January, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping. View directions

Contact: S. Tautz Tel: (01992) 564180  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Chairman & Vice-Chairman

To note that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has appointed Councillor P. Bolton as Chairman of the Panel and Councillor R. Jennings as Vice-Chairman of the Panel.

Minutes:

Members noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had appointed Councillor P. Bolton as Chairman of the Task and Finish Panel and Councillor R. Jennings as Vice-Chairman of the Panel.

 

The Democratic Services Manager reported that, since the publication of the agenda for the meeting, Councillors N. Bedford, M. Sartin and H. Whitbread had notified the Chief Executive of their wish to be members of the Panel. Councillor N. Bedford indicated that he understood that Councillor H. Brady also wished to be a member of the Panel and it was recognised that the current chairmen and vice-chairmen of the select committees were well represented amongst the membership of the Panel.

 

Councillor M. Sartin expressed disappointment at the level of attendance at the meeting from other members that had raised concern to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in relation to the initial proposals for the restructure of the select committee framework, that had been considered by the Committee in October 2019. The Panel requested that an item be included in the next edition of the Council Bulletin encouraging such members to participate in the review process being undertaken by the Panel.

 

2.

Terms of Reference

To note the following terms of reference for the Panel that were agreed by the Overview and scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 18 December 2018:

 

(a)       That the Panel consider the future structure of the select committee framework to ensure that it complements the new executive portfolio and management structure of the Council, taking into consideration the options presented to the Committee at its meeting held on 29 October 2018;

 

(b)       That the Panel consider:

 

(i)         the retention of the existing framework of four select committees;

 

(ii)        the introduction of an alternative framework of four select committees aligned with the new portfolio and service structure and the responsibilities of each select committee, to present opportunities for increased efficiency and effectiveness in scrutiny activity;

 

(iii)       the introduction of an alternative framework of two or three select committees aligned with the new portfolio and service structure. and the responsibilities of each select committee, to present opportunities for increased efficiency and effectiveness in scrutiny activity; and

 

(iv)      any other structure arrangement considered appropriate; and

 

(c)       That the Panel review the terms of reference of the existing select committees in terms of relevance and consider whether these could be improved.

 

 

Minutes:

The Panel noted its following terms of reference, which had been agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 18 December 2018:

 

(a)       That the Panel consider the future structure of the select committee framework to ensure that it complements the new executive portfolio and management structure of the Council, taking into consideration the options presented to the Committee at its meeting held on 29 October 2018;

 

(b)       That the Panel consider:

 

(i)         the retention of the existing framework of four select committees;

 

(ii)        the introduction of an alternative framework of four select committees aligned with the new portfolio and service structure and the responsibilities of each select committee, to present opportunities for increased efficiency and effectiveness in scrutiny activity;

 

(iii)       the introduction of an alternative framework of two or three select committees aligned with the new portfolio and service structure. and the responsibilities of each select committee, to present opportunities for increased efficiency and effectiveness in scrutiny activity; and

 

(iv)      any other structure arrangement considered appropriate; and

 

(c)       That the Panel consider arrangements to ensure that reports in respect of the Council’s adopted key performance indicators are made to the select committees as soon after the end of the relevant quarter as possible, and how best such reports can be presented to assist members in scrutinising performance against appropriate targets and the financial and resource implications for the authority; and

 

(d)       That the Panel review the terms of reference of the existing select committees in terms of relevance and consider whether these could be improved.

 

3.

Overview & Scrutiny Select Committee Framework - Review pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To consider the attached report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered the scope of its review of the existing select committee framework, having regard to the terms of reference for the review that had been agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in October 2018. The Chairman reminded members that it was important to focus the effort of the Panel on the formulation of recommendations in respect of a future select committee framework, in order to achieve the timescale for the review.

 

Councillor J. H. Whitehouse suggested that the Council’s ongoing scrutiny activity should be more focussed on issues of concern to local residents and that complaint data should be utilised to inform the development of relevant work programme priorities for the select committees. Councillor Whitehouse also reinforced the need to ensure the appropriate use of task and finish panels and innovative methods of scrutiny in the delivery of scrutiny priorities, as recommended in overview and scrutiny training programmes previously provided for members. The Panel noted that very few meetings of the existing select committees were currently webcast.

 

Councillor R. Jennings drew attention to a report published by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee in 2017, on the effectiveness of local authority overview and scrutiny, which had made a number of recommendations for revision to Government guidance on the operation of overview and scrutiny committees. The Panel noted that the report of the CLG Committee had been considered at a joint meeting of the overview and scrutiny chairmen and vice-chairmen in March 2018 and that the Government had undertaken to publish revised guidance by the end of 2018, although this was still awaited.

 

Councillor Jennings also suggested that the review of the select committee framework should encompass the role of the Audit and Governance Committee, although it was noted that this did not fall within the scope of the review agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was also reported that guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy required that the Audit and Governance Committee be independent of both the Council’s executive and scrutiny functions and be directly accountable to the authority’s governing body. The Panel noted that changes to the role and responsibilities of the Audit and Governance Committee were not within the remit of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and would need to be considered by the Council, on the recommendation of the Constitution Working Group.

 

Councillor G. Chambers suggested that the Council’s scrutiny activities should be focussed on issues where such activity could make a positive difference to its customers and achieve outcomes, and that it might be appropriate to review the terms of reference of each of the existing select committees to ensure that scrutiny activity remained meaningful. Councillor Chambers also highlighted that it was important that the role and responsibilities of the Standards Committee continue to be independent of the executive and scrutiny functions.

 

Councillor D. Dorrell highlighted a need for the Panel to be able to understand the roles and responsibilities within the Council’s new management  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 44 KB

The work programme for the Panel that was agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 18 December 2018, is attached as an appendix to this agenda.

 

Minutes:

The Panel noted its initial work programme, alongside the matters agreed to progress the review of the select committee framework. Members noted that the Chairman would provide an update to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the progress of the review, at its meeting to be held on 26 February 2019.

5.

Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting of the Panel will be held at 7.00pm on 31 January 2019.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Panel was to be held at 7.00pm on 31 January 2019.