Background and Legislation

What is Overview and Scrutiny?

Overview and Scrutiny was introduced within the Local Government Act 2000 as part of the current political management arrangements, which replaced the previous Committee system.

The current executive political management model of ‘Strong Leader and Cabinet' requires the creation of an Overview and Scrutiny Committee to act as a ‘counter balance' to the executive function. Overview and Scrutiny is the way in which all non-executive Members of a local authority can hold its Executive Members (decision makers) to account.

The Centre for Public Scrutiny describes the role of scrutiny as an ‘essential' means of ensuring that government, whether at a national or local level, remains effective and accountable.

Overview – is carried out when the Committee looks at a service or function in a general way, finding out information about it.

Scrutiny – happens when the Committee or perhaps a small team of Councillors, examine a service or function in detail. The Councillors will seek information about the topic, ask basic and more searching questions about it and gather evidence to support any recommendations made as a result.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is a powerful tool for checking that decisions made by the Executive Board are within policy and budget. The Committee also checks how current Council policies work by gathering evidence within and outside of the Council. Small teams of councillors carry out in-depth scrutinies of planned changes to policies, the impact of Council and other services and policies as well as helping to develop policies for the Council. All the reviews carried out in this way are published and can be found in the Scrutiny Library.

Powers were further expanded by the Police and Justice Act 2006, which provided powers to scrutinise the work of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships.
 
The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 gave more powers to local government to scrutinise other partner organisations, including bodies such as the Environment Agency. It also brings in other provisions that affect how scrutiny committees work, including powers over the creation of joint committees, and powers to resolve local problems through the Councillor Call for Action.

In Wychavon, the Council operates the "Strong Leader and Cabinet" model, which gives executive power to a Council Leader with a small Board of other members having the power to make decisions collectively.

The overview and scrutiny functions act as a counter balance to this.

Overview and Scrutiny does not just look inside the Council. It can examine anything which affects the wellbeing of some or all of Wychavon's residents.