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Kick Off

Not unlike the sense of excitement building at the start of a new football season, so the kick off is nearly underway to the eagerly anticipated first round of scrutiny committees following the County Council elections in May. The new committee memberships have all been agreed as have the chairs and vice-chairs. With 19 new members on the Council, this is an undoubted time of change for scrutiny. People’s Scrutiny for instance has 12 out of 15 new members.


Members have earnestly taken to their pre-season training (apologies for the rather tedious footballing analogies!) with the induction to scrutiny session. My colleague Camilla De Bernhardt sought to bring those new members up to match speed with the role and aims of the function underpinning the direction of scrutiny and engagement with the Cabinet. The captains of the teams, as it were, also met at a meeting of Chairs and Vice-Chairs, a regular sounding board to discuss the season ahead…


The fact that there are so many new members on scrutiny is much more an opportunity than a challenge. Yes it will take members a little while to understand the breadth of all the service areas relevant to their committee, but new members with their fresh impetus can make a real impact.


The agendas of the first cycle of meetings will be structured along the following lines, setting the scene for the next 4 years, through:


  • revisiting the terms of reference of scrutiny committees, outlining  the new Cabinet Member remits and Heads of Service areas of responsibility and alerting members to the role of Chairs and Vice-Chairs in co-ordinating the activities of scrutiny committees and their task groups;


  • receiving a brief presentation by Strategic Director Place and/or Head(s) of Service and from partner agencies on service issues, developments and challenges for the committee’s’ area of responsibility and services;


  • a brief presentation from the Director of Public Health on the impact of the Council’s new public health role in the delivery of services by the County Council and the contribution which scrutiny could make to this process;


  • inviting any Cabinet Members present to comment on their roles and responsibilities and how they see themselves working with scrutiny;


  • any outstanding issues from the previous committee that need to be dealt with at that meeting; and


  • reviewing the committee work programmes , establishing task groups and spotlight reviews as appropriate.

Rather than a 9 month football season, members have the next 4 years to make an impact in improving services for their communities and Devon as a whole. Place Scrutiny gets the ball rolling tomorrow at 10.00am on 13 June 2013 with Councillor Andrew Moulding taking over the Chair. You can follow the live webcast here or watch it later from the archives.



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