A report of the Strategic Director of Finance, Governance and Support was presented to provide the Committee with an update in respect of the recent review of scrutiny arrangements.
A review of Democratic Services took place in 2016 which resulted in changes to scrutiny support. The revised scrutiny arrangements had been in place for over a year and processes had been reviewed to ascertain whether any further improvements or changes could be made.
The review was undertaken through discussion with affected Members and Officers, a Member workshop, and benchmarking with other Mayoral authorities across the UK. In addition, the outcomes of a national inquiry by a Government Select Committee on The Effectiveness of Scrutiny had also been considered.
A list of the improvements already implemented was included in the submitted report and included continued training opportunities for Chairs and Members as well as revised investigation outline and final report templates.
Many of the recommendations from the Select Committee were already in place in Middlesbrough. There was only one recommendation of note from the Governments review, which was the notion of Overview and Scrutiny Board reporting to Council rather than Executive. However, there was no appetite to accept this recommendation as it would impose unnecessary delays in the decision-making process and would severely lengthen Council meetings.
Whilst there was no requirement for the Council to support the scrutiny function with a specific level of resource, there was a requirement to designate a Statutory Scrutiny Officer. This post was currently vacant and was a role that could be assumed by the Members and Statutory Services Manager who currently managed the democratic processes.
Members commented that scrutiny was working well in Middlesbrough and paid tribute to the work of Democratic Services Officers in supporting the scrutiny panels.
AGREED as follows:
1. The information provided was received and noted.
2. The Members and Statutory Services Manager was appointed as the Statutory Scrutiny Officer.