Overview and Scrutiny at St Albans City and District Council
What is Overview And Scrutiny?
The Council wants to provide the best possible services to its residents. Overview and Scrutiny is a process to check that this happens. Councillors take an overview of all the activities that the council is involved in, and can decide to scrutinise – examine in depth – particular issues. Reviewing policies, making suggestions for change and improvement and examining decisions made, are key aspects of Overview and Scrutiny.
How do topics for scrutiny get chosen?
Councillors involved in scrutiny choose topics which are important to the public and the district of St Albans. Issues examined, might be, for example, those which are of key importance to the way the area is run, raised regularly with councillors through contact with the public or service user groups, or issues which feature in consultation which the Council carries out.
How is scrutiny carried out? What powers does the scrutiny function have?
Councillors who carry out this work do not sit on the council’s Cabinet (decision making body). In this way the Cabinet can be questioned about its actions and held to account. Overview and Scrutiny Committees have power to summon Cabinet members and council officers before it to answer questions. They can also invite other people to attend meetings to give their views or answer questions.
Task and finish groups are set up by the Scrutiny Committees. They carry out in-depth work on specific topics suggested by the Committees. The groups are led by councillors and conduct their business informally. They have no decision making powers, but help the council to improve the way it works by making recommendations for change and policy development.
What kind of topics are examined?
Two Overview and Scrutiny Committees cover all of the Council’s work. There is one for internal performance (the way the council as an organisation runs itself, manages its budgets and so on). The second examines public services provided to residents of the St Albans District, and issues about the area. Overview and Scrutiny can look at issues which concern residents and the local area but which may not be the direct responsibility of the local authority – for example, public transport, health services and police. In this way, the Council can examine a range of issues affecting residents in the district. In this area, Overview and Scrutiny of health services is carried out by the County Council – Hertfordshire. However, this work is linked to St Albans District Council through the St Albans Health & Wellbeing Partnership, where issues of local concern are examined. Hertfordshire County Council also has responsibility for scrutinising the services they provide directly – such as highways, education and so on – but St Albans District Council can get involved where there is a particular local issue to examine.
Details for Overview and Scrutiny Committee Meetings
Details of past and future meetings of the two Overview and Scrutiny Committees can be found here and then selecting the relevant meeting title - Local Service Scrutiny Committee (previously named Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) or Internal Perforance Scrutiny Commitee (previously Overview and Scrutiny (Internal Performance).
Meetings of both Overview and Scrutiny Committees are webcast live over the Internet. You can view a webcast either live or from the archive here.
Overview and Scrutiny Committees Annual Report
Here you can view the Annual Reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees
Directory of scrutiny reviews
Here you can browse the work of the Scrutiny Committees' detailed reviews, carried out by "task and finish" groups.
How do I find out more?
If you have any questions about Overview and Scrutiny in St Albans, please contact Scrutiny Support Officer Catherine Comfort on 01727 819529, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also browse the documents on this page - including the committees' work programmes for this year, a toolkit which gives information for councillors, council officers and residents, an annual report giving information on what scrutiny committees have done in the past year and reports from recent scrutiny reviews.
How can people get involved in the work of scrutiny?
The Council is keen to get people involved in the work of Overview and Scrutiny. We invite residents, interest and user groups and other interested parties to get involved through regular consultation exercises, contact with councillors and attending scrutiny meetings, among other ways. The Council plans how this is done, and tries to make sure it hears from a range of people and groups. We also invite residents and others to nominate issues that can be examined in depth. Committees welcome suggestions for topic of inquiry.
If there is anything you would like the Overview and Scrutiny committees to review, let us know and the relevant committee will consider any issues put forward to it by members of the public, interest groups or businesses. Suggestion for reviews must meet the following criteria:
- affect people living within St Albans City and District Council
- relate to a service, event or issue in which the council has a significant stake or over which the council has an influence
- not relate to an individual service complaint
- not relate to matters dealt with by another council committee.
You can suggest a topic for review by emailing email@example.com. Suggestions will be considered at agenda setting meetings when the Overview and Scrutiny work programme is planned. You will be informed as to whether your topic has been chosen for scrutiny, and if not, why not.
Councillor Call for Action
Councilor Call for Action (CCfA) has been introduced by the Government to strengthen the role of the Ward Councillor. The CCfA is a process for a councillor to act on behalf of residents to resolve a single issue, acting as a last resort for people who can't get issues resolved through any other means. The CCfA protocol can be viewed below.
Date of last review: 23 May 2013
Community Safety Working Group
The Community Safety Working Group discusses priority issues in the Community Safety Plan. It reports annually or as needed to the Local Services Scrutiny Committee. The current terms of reference are attached below.