(Councillor P. Bolton (Chairman of Task and Finish Panel)) To consider the attached report.
The Chairman of the Task and Finish Panel, Councillor P Bolton advised that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had established the Panel to undertake a review of the Council’s existing overview and scrutiny select committee framework, considering the adoption of a revised executive portfolio structure that complemented the new senior management structure of the Council.
Councillor P Bolton advised that the Task and Finish Panel had met several times in January and February 2019 and discussed the structure of three select committees based on the Corporate Plan for 2019/20 municipal year; Stronger Communities; Stronger Council; and Stronger Place. Each of these select committees would consider a focused and achievable work programme, developed from the Portfolio Holder and service delivery aims and objectives along with any relevant community priorities. In addition, the performance monitoring would be considered by one select committee.
The Committee enquired how the live data on performance reporting would be delivered to members at the meeting and how could it be effectively scrutinized, if members received the information at the meeting. Also, whether external organisations could still be requested to attend the Committee. Councillor P Bolton advised that members had requested relevant data, rather than the current form of performance reporting, which was out of date and consisted of huge amounts of paper work. The Chief Executive advised that the information would be provided to members days before the meeting rather than weeks, to ensure that the information was relevant and up to date.
The Committee also commented on the inconsistencies of the work programmes of the previous select committees and how the new framework appeared to reflect a refreshed and more balanced programme.
The Customer Services Portfolio Holder asked where the work from the Resources Select Committee would be absorbed. The Chief Executive advised that it would be considered under the Stronger Council Select Committee, as this committee would consider all the performance reporting information going forward.
The Chairman thanked the members and officers, who had supported the Task and Finish Panel.
(1) That a new overview and scrutiny select committee framework, based on a structure of three select committees, be established with effect from the commencement of the 2019/20 municipal year;
(2) That the titles and responsibilities of each select committee, based on the themes of the Corporate Plan for 2018-2023, be agreed as follows:
(a) Stronger Communities Select Committee
· customer excellence;
· partnership working;
· behavioural insights;
(b) Stronger Council Select Committee
· digital enablement;
· medium-term financial strategy;
· Corporate Plan and Key Performance Indicator monitoring;
(c) Stronger Place Select Committee
· St. John’s Road redevelopment;
· North Weald (masterplanning and re-location of council services);
· local plan;
· growth, skills and employment; and
· Council housebuilding.
(3) That the consideration of quarterly performance monitoring information in respect of the Corporate Plan and the Council’s adopted suite of Key Performance Indicators be undertaken by the proposed Stronger Council Select Committee, subject to the implementation of the exception-based reporting arrangements;
(4) That the draft terms of reference for each of the new select committees for 2019/20, as set out in appendix 1 be agreed;
(5) That the work programme for each of the new select committees for 2019/20, as set out in appendix 2 be agreed;
(6) That focused and achievable work programmes be developed for each new select committee for each year, drawing on Portfolio Holder and service delivery aims and objectives, and relevant community priorities;
(7) That the scrutiny of business as usual activities be allocated to the ongoing work programme of each new select committee based on the respective programme and project environment within the Corporate Plan for 2018-2023;
(8) That the Cabinet be requested to ensure that relevant pre-scrutiny activity was built in to the development of all key decisions to reduce the need for call-in, and to pro-actively utilise the overview and scrutiny framework for policy development activity wherever appropriate;
(9) That arrangements for meetings of the new select committees to be held on a quarterly basis during 2019/20, be agreed as set out in appendix 3;
(10) That the Service Director (Customer Services) arrange for the routine webcasting of meetings of the new select committees;
(11) That the current training arrangements for members in respect of the Council’s overview and scrutiny function be reviewed as appropriate, considering the operation of the proposed new select committee framework;
(12) That the operation of the proposed new select committee framework be reviewed after twelve months operation, or a sooner period if considered necessary;
(13) That the Constitution Working Group review the current application of requirements for members to make reports to ordinary meetings of the Council about the business of external organisations subject of member representation; and
(14) That that Chairman formally advise the Council of the arrangements for the new select committee framework on 25 April 2019.