Agenda item

East Devon District Council Scrutiny Improvement Review - Centre for Governance and Scrutiny


The Democratic Services Manager presented this report which set out a number of recommendations arising from the Scrutiny Improvement Review carried out during October and November 2023 by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (CfGS), following a Motion at Full Council in July 2023.


The CfGS letter setting out the findings of the Review was included with the agenda papers.


Members were asked to note the report and associated CfGS letter and to request that the Democratic Services Manager prepares an Action Plan to deliver the CfGS recommendations, for consideration at a further joint meeting, by 30 April 2024.


Discussion and clarification included the following points:

·        The Action Plan will include detailed proposals on how and when recommendations can be delivered, taking account of any cost implications for the Council.

·        Members discussed whether it was appropriate for Cabinet members to attend meetings of the scrutiny committees outside of occasions where they are required to present their Portfolio Holder report.  It was noted that since meetings of the scrutiny committees are public, nobody can be prohibited from attending.  However, Local Government Association advice in recent scrutiny training was that Cabinet members should attend scrutiny meetings only when invited to do so.  The issue will be picked up in the Action Plan.

·        Where recommendations refer to committee Chairs, it is appropriate to interpret this to include Vice-Chairs given that they may need to deputise, on occasion.  This will be made clear in the Action Plan.

·        Referring to recommendation 3, a senior officer has now been assigned to each of the three scrutiny committees and these arrangements are expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

·        Referring to recommendation 6, it is intended that cross-party pre-meetings will provide a mechanism for members to be briefed so that they have a strong understanding of the matter under discussion and are better positioned to carry out effective scrutiny by asking the right questions and making best use of the time, in public meetings. 

·        A lack of officer capacity has prevented the scrutiny committees from carrying out in-depth scrutiny work and Members are keen that this is addressed, so that Task and Finish Forum (TAFF) work can be conducted for issues identified as a priority.  It is envisaged that this will develop, moving forward, through delivery of recommendations around resources for scrutiny, and around work programming and alignment with the Council’s strategic priorities.  Members suggested a budget could be set aside for consultancy support for TAFFs in the event that the necessary resource is not available in house. 



That the Overview Committee, Scrutiny Committee and Housing Review Board:

1.     Note the letter and recommendations from the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny arising from the Scrutiny Improvement Review.

2.     Request that the Democratic Services Manager prepares an Action Plan identifying the resources required to deliver the eight recommendations from the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny and presents the Action Plan to a joint meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, Overview Committee and Housing Review Board by 30 April 2024.


The Democratic Service Manager was asked to write to the CfGS to thank them for their work.

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