Draft Scrutiny Committee Operating Principles 2020/21


Meeting Arrangements


  1. At least 10 Committee meetings will be scheduled each year to match the Cabinet meeting cycle. This is to enable pre-decision scrutiny of decisions to be taken at the next Cabinet meeting. 


  1. All public addresses and councillor contributions will be directed through the Chair.


  1. The Scrutiny Committee will hold the Cabinet and Senior Officers to account publicly at committee meetings.


  1. The Chair will report regularly to Council on the work of the Scrutiny Committee. The Committee may also produce an annual report.


Standing Panels and Review Groups


  1. The Scrutiny Committee will set Standing Panels and Review Groups each year to consider selected issues in more detail.


  1. Standing Panels will hold meetings throughout the year, and consider quarterly performance reports, Executive decisions and other issues within their remit.


  1. Review Groups will be formed to undertake issue led and time bound ‘task and finish’ reviews of specific issues, before concluding their work with a report and recommendations, usually to the Cabinet.


  1. Review Group and Standing Panel meetings will be held in public or private as the meeting business dictates.


  1. Standing Panel and Review Group Chairs must be members of the Scrutiny Committee and can be from any political group. Panel Chairs will be elected at the first meeting of the Committee in the municipal year. Review Group Chairs will be elected by the Committee when the groups are established.


  1. Standing Panels will meet approximately 5 times each year. Review Groups will meet as often as is required for them to conclude their work. The Scrutiny Committee will oversee the work of Review Groups to ensure they do not overrun unduly.


  1. The Scrutiny Committee will commission and scope the work of Standing Panels and Review Groups and therefore has final agreement on their recommendations. There may be occasions where this is not possible and standing panel reports will go directly to the Cabinet.


  1. In any given year, the organisation ordinarily has capacity to support either:

a)            2 Standing Panels and 3 Review Groups; or

b)            3 Standing Panels and 2 Review Groups


  1. No substitutions will be allowed on Standing Panels or Review Groups. This is to provide continuity of membership given the focused nature of their work.


  1. Chairs of Standing Panels and Review Groups will report back to the Committee on progress and outcomes. They will also be invited to present their reports and recommendations to the Cabinet.


  1. The quorum for standing panels and review groups shall be two councillors for panels of four, and three councillors for panels of six.


Political Balance


  1. The Chair of the Scrutiny Committee must be a member of the opposition, and the Vice-Chair can be from any political group.


  1. The membership of Standing Panels and Review Groups will be set by the Scrutiny Committee and drawn from all non-executive members. Group secretaries will be asked to nominate members to any such groups for agreement by the Committee.


  1. Standing Panels and Review Groups are not required to reflect the Council’s make up, but the Committee will use the following cross-party principle guide for appointment:


4 members: 2 Labour, 1 Lib Dem, 1 Green

6 members: 3 Labour, 2 Lib Dem, 1 Green


The Scrutiny Work Plan


  1. The Work Plan will consist of a number of issues for consideration informed by consultation with all councillors and senior officers. Guidance criteria for prioritising work will be provided by the Scrutiny Officer, but the Committee is responsible for agreeing its Work Plan.


  1. The Work Plan will be reviewed at every meeting and adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Committee and take account of changes to the Forward Plan of executive decisions.


  1. Items will be taken forward as resources allow, and the Committee must provide officers with sufficient notice and guidance on what they are requesting to consider, mindful of the impact on resources and the constraints of the organisation. The Scrutiny Committee and its Panels will provide as much notice as is possible when commissioning reports from council officers (minimum 8 weeks).


  1. The management of the Work Plan will be with the whole Committee, with the Chair and Vice-Chair taking an organisational role between meetings.


  1. Individual members of the Scrutiny Committee, or any 4 other members of the Council (who are not members of the councils executive), will be able to put an item on the agenda of a Scrutiny Committee. All Councillor Calls for Action and Call-Ins will be considered at a public meeting of the Committee.


  1. Members of the public can also suggest a topic for the Work Plan. Suggestions can be submitted in person or via the Council’s Work Plan Suggestion Form.






  1. At the discretion of the Committee, residents and other specialists may be co-opted as non-voting members of the Committee, Standing Panels and Review Groups, as the subject matter dictates for a period ending no later than the day of the first meeting of the next council year. The Committee may discontinue an appointment at any time.