Scrutiny is in place for the benefit of the community at large. It is designed to support and enhance the Council's decision making process.
Here at Wigan, the Scrutiny Committees aim to add value to the council services that you use by:-
- supporting the Council in achieving its vision for the borough and its strategic aims and priorities
- promoting open and transparent decision-making, democratic accountability and to hold the Executive to account for its actions
- promoting continuous improvement, best practice and innovation with the services, functions and policies which the Council has responsibilities for or influence over
- taking a lead role in reviewing policy and influencing matters of strategic direction
- monitoring performance of the directorates and key performance indicators
Scrutiny is a Councillor led, non-party political process, by which the Council looks at its own performance, and that of other public sector services, to check how well they are doing. As part of the Council’s governance arrangements Scrutiny acts as a ‘critical friend’ to the Executive decision makers. Scrutiny gives an important role to all Councillors who do not hold Cabinet posts.
Scrutiny and the Council structure
Following a revision of the Council's Corporate Strategy in 2012, the Council realigned its Scrutiny structure in May 2012, to reflect the Council's new Management structure and its three corporate priorities:-
- Confident Places
- Confident People
- Confident Council
Each Scrutiny Committee contains 14 Councillors, drawn from political parties within the Council membership to mirror the Council's overall political composition. In order to gain the best outcomes for local people, members of Scrutiny Committees work across political boundaries with a common-sense, objective approach to reviewing council policies which results in informed and considered recommendations for improvement.
Setting the work programme for the Scrutiny Committees is an important stage in the scrutiny process, identifying key topics that will be considered in the coming year. Scrutiny Committee Members set the work programme with support from their Change Programme Manager early in the municipal year.
key principles for setting work programmes
- Topics should add value and support corporate stratgey/priorities
- Where appropriate involve partners, stakeholders and the public
- Allow some flexibility to enable topics to be included as they arise
- Seek improvement in Service provision
- Be achievable within available resources
Scrutiny Committees also have standing items that they regularly consider, such as service area business plans, budget monitoring and performance monitoring.
Once Members have assembled the work programme it will be important for them to identify and agree the highest priority topics, those that will add most value through their work. Topics requiring long and detailed examination can be looked at in detail as part of a Member led Task & Finish Group inquiry and be included in the overall Scrutiny Work Programme.
Due to the level of resources required to successfully undertake a Task & Finish Group inquiry a Committee will carry out a limited number in a year. This will also help keep the work programme flexible.
Types of Scrutiny work
Topics for Scrutiny Committee work programmes fall into several main categories:
Policy Review and Development
Where a topic is identified for scrutiny because of changes to legislation/government guidance, or a policy is recognised as being in need of updating or reviewing locally.
Holding the Executive to account
This involves scrutinising decisions of the Executive at a number of different stages of the decision making process: before decisions are made; before they are implemented; and after they are implemented.
Monitoring performance and progress
Where the Committee undertakes monitoring of the Council's performance and progress in implementing previously agreed actions. Such topics are often identified during scrutiny of regular performance reports.
Where a topic on the Council's Forward Plan is considered by a Scrutiny Committee to inform the Cabinet's decisions by making evidence based recommendations.
External scrutiny involves scrutinising the work and impact of external agencies on the council's community e.g. local NHS Trusts and other partners.
Where six Scrutiny Committee Members can ‘call in’ decisions made by the Executive if the decision has not already been implemented. This must be done within five working days of the decision being published (two working days after the meeting). The ‘call in’ process involves a full discussion and consideration of the decision and decision makers may be required to attend to explain their decisions.
A meeting of the appropriate Scrutiny Committee would then be called within fifteen days of the decision to call in. Following the meeting, the decision can be referred to Council or back to the decision-maker for reconsideration. All key decisions expressed in the Forward Plan are eligible for call in.
The Call-in process should only be used in exceptional circumstances, where Councillors have evidence which suggests that a decision was not taken in accordance with the principals of decision making (as set out in the constitution).
Councillor Call for Action (CCfA)
Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) is about helping our Councillors to resolve issues and problems on behalf of our residents. The legislation allows a Councillor to formally request a relevant Scrutiny Committee to consider an issue in their Ward for further investigation through a 'Councillor Call for Action'.
It allows a Councillor to raise an issue in their Ward with the Scrutiny Committee, although there are conditions placed on the kinds of issues that can be raised. Councillor Call for Action allows the Committee to consider the request and recommend a course of action.
In all instances, however, the Councillor will have tried all other means at their disposal to resolve an issue before raising a Councillor Call for Action. It is not an alternative way to deal with normal Ward matters, but a means of last resort to be used when all other avenues have been exhausted.
You can download a copy of Wigan Councils protocol by clicking on the following link:-
The Scrutiny Committees meet six times per year on an eight week cycle detailed on the Committte meeting calendar
Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report
The Confident Council Scrutiny Committee is tasked with preparing a report each year setting out details of the work it has done along with the work of the other two Scrutiny Committees the latest Annual report can be downloaded from the following link:-
You have the right to attend meetings of the Scrutiny Committees. Meetings take place in the Town Hall in Wigan. View the Wigan Street Map to find out where the Town Hall is located.