SWansea Overview & Scrutiny Improvement programme report
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Report of our recent improvement programme

Report of our recent improvement programme

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    SWansea Overview & Scrutiny Improvement programme report SWansea Overview & Scrutiny Improvement programme report Document Transcript

    • City and County of Swansea Swansea’s Overview & Scrutiny Improvement Programme March – July 2009 City and County of Swansea Dinas a Sir Abertawe 1
    • Summary The Overview & Scrutiny Improvement Programme was held between March and July 2009. The aims of the programme were to: • Review and evaluate the operation of overview and scrutiny • Generate ideas for improving overview & scrutiny • Provide improvement opportunities for overview & scrutiny councillors Five sessions were held as part of the programme and these focused on: • The roles of overview and scrutiny and the barriers faced • Effectiveness of meetings • External scrutiny • Public engagement • The critical friend role The programme concluded with a self assessment exercise and was followed up by a special meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating Group which debated the key outcomes. Over 50% of Councillors took part in the programme which was supported and facilitated by the Overview and Scrutiny Unit and had additional input from: • Cardiff Business School • City & County of Cardiff Council • Organisational Development Team, City & County of Swansea • University of the West of England • Welsh Local Government Association From the programme five improvement themes have been identified and these form the basis of the detailed corporate action plan. The themes are: • Develop New Methods of Public Engagement • Improve Relationships with Partners • Improve Communication • Improve the Critical Friend Challenge • Develop Cross-Border Scrutiny 2
    • 1. The Aims & Format 1.1 The aims and format for the programme were developed in consultation with the Overview & Scrutiny Coordinating Group. This group includes the chairs and vice chairs on the Council’s 9 Overview and Scrutiny Boards as well and the leaders and deputy leaders of the different political parties represented on the Council. 1.2 The aims of the programme were to: • Review and evaluate the operation of overview and scrutiny • Generate ideas for improving overview & scrutiny • Provide improvement opportunities for overview & scrutiny councillors 1.3 In terms of format it was agreed that the programme would: • Be open to all councillors • Run through a series of half day or evening seminars • Draw on internal support and backed up by external expertise where necessary • Use practical examples of things that had worked well both here and in other local authorities • Make maximum use of the experience and knowledge of councillors • Generate actions that lead to improvements in the performance of Overview and Scrutiny 1.4 Each seminar would: • Be chaired by an Overview or Scrutiny Chair or Vice-Chair • Have a member of Corporate Management team acting as rapporteur • Be as interactive as possible • Be councillor led 3
    • 2. The Programme 2.1 The topics for the Improvement Programme were debated and developed by the Overview & Scrutiny Coordinating Group. It was agreed that a self assessment exercise should be conducted at the end of the programme rather than the beginning in order to benefit new members who would by this time have a year of overview & scrutiny experience. Topic Areas to be covered Output Making a Difference Defining Overview & Definition through Overview & Scrutiny Tools to enable Scrutiny How to make a Overview & Scrutiny to difference through make a difference Chair: Cllr Nick Overview & Scrutiny Identify barriers and ways Tregoning in Swansea to mitigate them Overcoming barriers Analysis of the Overview to effective Overview & Scrutiny process & Scrutiny “Bored” Meetings? Chairing for Overview Practical critique of a & Scrutiny Board meeting Chair: Cllr June Facilitation Understanding what Burtonshaw Questioning makes a good meeting techniques Developing External External scrutiny, for Ideas for an external Overview & Scrutiny example Health scrutiny partners Chair: Cllr John Scrutiny of the Local Newbury Service Board – the Cardiff experience Public Engagement in Why is public Identify existing good Overview & Scrutiny involvement practice for participation important? methods Chair: Cllr Darren Price Encouraging effective public involvement Critical Friend Role / What is the “Critical An understanding of the Self Assessment Friend” role? role Examining the critical Practical application of Chair: Cllr Mark Child friend approach the critical friend role Self assessment Evaluation of Overview & framework Scrutiny in Swansea Overview & Scrutiny Evaluate programme Overview & Scrutiny Coordinating Group Identify key themes / improvement programme Special Meeting actions action plan Chair: Cllr Wendy Fitzgerald 4
    • 3. Making a Difference through Overview & Scrutiny Seminar #1: 2nd March 2009 3.1 Aims • To consider the different roles of overview and scrutiny • To identify barriers to effective overview and scrutiny • To look at ways to overcome the barriers 3.2 Support • Overview & Scrutiny Unit 3.3 Activities • Panel debate – panellists were asked to select one of six roles of Overview & Scrutiny (as identified by Dr Rachel Ashworth in her recent research) and put forward an argument in support of their chosen role. • Group debate - the different roles of overview and scrutiny • Presentation – the barriers to effective Overview & Scrutiny • Break out groups – to: Identify any barriers that exist to effective overview and scrutiny in Swansea; consider the reasons that they exist; suggest what could be done to overcome the barriers; consider if overview & scrutiny is achieving its full potential • Plenary – feedback from break out groups and identification of key messages 3.4 Issues & Actions 3.4.1 From the panel and debate, it was apparent that the most important roles for overview & scrutiny were public involvement, holding the Executive to account and the development of external scrutiny. 3.4.2 There were a number of ideas to improve overview & scrutiny: • Improved public debate within the overview & scrutiny process • Celebrate the success of overview & scrutiny • Greater involvement of other bodies in overview & scrutiny • Greater use of innovative & technological methods to encourage public involvement • Ensuring the minority views are captured in overview & scrutiny reports 3.4.3 There were a number of suggestions to tackle the barriers to effective overview & scrutiny: • Capacity – need to balance workload with resource • Culture change – the critical friend role 5
    • • Interest – align interests of councillors with boards • Work Plans – focus on less things but do them better • Meeting cycle – timing of meetings • Balancing ward work with overview & scrutiny work 6
    • 4. ‘Bored’ Meetings? Seminar #2: 5th March 2009 4.1 Aims • Identify behaviours and appropriate responses • Consider the roles of the Board members • Understand what makes a good overview & scrutiny meeting 4.2 Support • Council’s Organisational Development team • Overview & Scrutiny Unit 4.3 Activities • Identification of different behaviours – facilitated groups were asked to look at a series of posters of animals which represented different behaviours. The groups were then asked to consider the best way to deal with that type of personality at a board meeting • Facilitated group discussion to obtain councillor views on what roles and responsibilities of overview and scrutiny board members, the aim of overview and scrutiny meetings and what different players contribute to the process 4.4 Issues & Actions 4.4.1 Boards are made up of many different types of personalities and chairs often have to flex their chairing style to accommodate the different members. This helps to empower members to take part in board discussions. Members acknowledged that occasionally they must take a stronger approach with unruly or disruptive board members 4.4.2 Members identified all the key roles of overview & scrutiny as set out in the Local Govt Act 2000 as well as a number of other deliverables: - party engagement, recommendations, investigative reviews, involvement of other agencies, challenge 4.4.3 The role and responsibilities of the chair were generally perceived to be wide ranging: to maintain control of the meeting, ensure all members have an opportunity to comment, to be unbiased, involve relevant parties, to questions witnesses, facilitate debate, draw things to a conclusions, not act as the lead, be assertive, flexible, keep work on track, enthusiastic 4.4.4 Partnerships: a good mix of statutory and voluntary agencies were highlighted including, community & BME, and youth groups, schools, WAG, LHB, the media and the public. Some reasons for not working: 7
    • bias, lack of structure, lack of awareness of the role of O & S, private agendas 4.4.5 Councillors saw their contribution to board meetings as: providing challenge, ensuring “voice” is heard, being prepared in order to ask relevant questions, commission research. Members saw officer’s contributions as: to provide information, advice & guidance and to actively participate 4.4.6 It was suggested that Directors and Chairs/Vice Chairs work together outside of Board meetings to improve work planning, meetings and reports. 8
    • 5. Developing External Overview & Scrutiny Seminar #3: 17th April 2009 5.1 Aims • Understand Cardiff’s experience of external overview & scrutiny and scrutiny of Cardiff’s LSB • Consider the implications of external overview & scrutiny • Identify general principles of external overview & scrutiny • Consider the barriers to external overview & scrutiny 5.2 Support • Councillor Bill Kelloway & Angela Holt from City & County of Cardiff Council • Overview & Scrutiny Unit 5.3 Activities • Presentation from Councillor and officer from Cardiff and discussion (below) • Break out groups to consider principles of and barriers to external overview & scrutiny • Plenary feedback session External Overview and Scrutiny – Cardiff’s Experiences Councillor Bill Kelloway – Chair, Children & Young People Scrutiny Committee, Angela Holt – Principal Scrutiny Officer Cardiff Council – Scrutiny Committees • 5 Committees – o Children & Young People o Community & Adult Services o Economy & Culture o Environmental o Policy Review & Performance • Nine members plus 4 parent & faith school co-optees on Children & Young People Committee • Cross Party Chairs • Annual work programmes • 4 weekly meetings plus Task & Finish groups & special meetings Examples of External Scrutiny • Statutory Partnership Plans o Single Children’s Plan o Health, Social Care & Well Being Strategy o Community Safety Strategy 9
    • • Key Strategies, Policies & Commissioning tools o Youth Offending Service o Joint Commissioning Strategies o Older Persons Accommodation Strategy o PACT process o Neighbour Nuisance o Looked After Children o Missing Children o Speech Therapy • Key Issues o Pitt Review of Flooding – Environment Agency o Cardiff City Football Club – new stadium o Major Projects – ISV, St David’s II, Cardiff Castle • Joint Scrutiny o Economy & Culture and Environmental Scrutiny Committees – South East Wales Regional Transport Plan • Cross boundary Scrutiny o Environmental Committees of Cardiff, Monmouthshire, Newport and Vale of Glamorgan – joint scrutiny of partnerships in Waste Management Lessons from this • Only possible to have ‘light touch’ scrutiny of statutory partnerships • Need to develop relationships with lead officers and key partners • Raises awareness of partnership working • Useful context setting for committees – informs more detailed pieces of work • Provides access to other sources to influence work programme – advocates, service users • Focus on areas where can make an impact • Plan ahead • Think creatively about use of resources • Impact of scrutiny – vision, aims, objectives, implementation, resourcing, monitoring & evaluation. Local Service Board Scrutiny • LSB needs strong governance • Pledged to ‘develop & establish robust scrutiny & performance management mechanism’ • Parameters were: o Respect any existing statutory arrangements o Recognise democratic mandate of elected members o Seek high quality structure Well linked to existing structures Add Value Avoid Duplication Strengthen citizen engagement 10
    • LSB Scrutiny Panel Membership Established multi-agency scrutiny arrangements for Local Service Board John Littlechild Police Authority Dr Rita Austin Cardiff LHB David Jones Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust Robert Woodward CHC Paul Warren Equalities Bernie Bowen Thompson VAC Councillor Ralph Cook, CCC Scrutiny Councillor Bill Kelloway CCC Scrutiny Councillor Gwenllian Lansdown CCC Scrutiny Councillor Dianne Rees CCC Scrutiny Councillor Simon Wakefield CCC Scrutiny To be confirmed – Fire Authority rep Non-Council Chair LSB Lessons learnt Preparation is key …. • Understand & respect existing scrutiny map • Invest time in relationships & building trust • Identify key players in partner organisations • Invest time in shaping values/approach Additional Dimensions re LSB … • Democratic Mandate – big issue • Executive/Non Executive Split - Complex • Work programme - Manage Expectations o Of Scrutiny Panel members o Of LSB partners/ project teams • Engage & prepare those affected o Panel Members o LSB project teams o Other Witnesses • Don’t replicate council scrutiny approach o Use learning & knowledge of panel members o Pilot new approaches • Ask for feedback o Self-evaluation & formal evaluation o Witness feedback • Joining up” the scrutiny map – strengthens accountability • Expert scrutineers • Strengthens relationships for other, non- LSB, scrutiny • Resourcing - LSB Scrutiny & regional bodies • Scrutiny before relationships established 11
    • 5.4 Issues & Actions 5.4.1 Resources – important to have the right budgetary and officer support 5.4.2 Cross boundary working – increase overview & scrutiny across boundaries with the development of joint committees to consider regional issues like waste management, tourism and transport 5.4.3 Building relationships • importance of building relationships with external organisations and how to do this • Role of the Chair and Vice Chair to meet key partners throughout the year and when developing work plans • Questioning skills are very important, ensure style is not confrontational • Prepare external witnesses 5.4.4 Prioritising workloads • Focus on areas of work that will have the most impact • Work programmes should focus on key issues and be realistic and reasonable • Boards should be more selective with what items are in the work plan • Items for “note” or information should be circulated to members and not appear on board agendas • Important to have focused summarised reports and not reams of paper 5.4.5 Partnerships • Consider how other local authorities are conducting external scrutiny, as well as Cardiff • Need to ensure that the mechanisms established for overview & scrutiny of partnerships is right for Swansea • Councillors want better information on the LSB and partnerships • Councillors want a better understanding of external organisations and bodies – map of partnerships/stakeholder mapping 12
    • 6. Public Engagement in Overview & Scrutiny Seminar #4: 21st April 2009 6.1 Aims • Introduce issues and opportunities for engaging the public in overview & scrutiny drawing on lessons and experience from elsewhere • Identify opportunities to develop greater public engagement in overview & scrutiny in Swansea 6.2 Support • Eileen Lepine and Jo Howard, University of the West of England • Overview & Scrutiny Unit 6.2 Activities • Presentation on public engagement, forms of engagement, principles of good participation followed by a discussion • Facilitated break out groups to identify: o Main things to be achieved from involving the public o Priority areas for public involvement o Key groups and individuals o Methods o Barriers o Key actions SCRUTINY: BRINGING THE PUBLIC IN? Eileen Lepine, Jo Howard, University of the West of England Getting the Public Involved • Better services and democratic renewal • Active citizens, responsive councils • Where does scrutiny fit in? o acting on behalf of the public? o working with the public in a new way? Accountability • taking public views into account o Good scrutiny award – Southend-on-Sea Council’s in depth scrutiny of the independence and wellbeing of older people • giving an account o Good scrutiny award – Lancashire police authority’s Investor in Policing campaign 13
    • • holding to account o direct accountability to the public – the ballot box and more o ‘internal’ scrutiny of the executive, by members o scrutiny by local councils / and the public of other bodies o Good scrutiny award – Leeds young peoples scrutiny forum o Public engagement • Democratic and practical functions o Democracy and legitimacy beyond the ballot box o Service improvement and efficiency Which publics? Practical service-oriented aims o Experts, service users, third sector service providers o Networks and associations that can represent specific needs/interests Democratic aims o Residents, tenants’ associations, area-based organisations Forms of engagement • A long-term, two way conversation between council and public • Ladder (or spectrum) of participation o Providing information to the public at one end o Citizens as co-scrutinisers working with councillors to together hold the council to account, at the other Principles for good participation • Makes a difference • Voluntary • Transparency, honesty and clarity • Adequate resources • Appropriate participants • Accessibility • Accountability • Power • Learning and development And in Swansea? • Main things to be achieved by involving the public? • Priority areas for public involvement? • Key groups and individuals? to involve • How best to do it? • Barriers? Problems? • 1 or 2 key things for the action plan 14
    • 6.3 Feedback from Discussion Groups • Make more use of Member’s knowledge of the community in O&S • Too much time is dedicated to reports at overview and scrutiny meetings • Good practice in current overview and scrutiny Boards include co- option but this is only done in the CYP Boards. Also reporting back. • If all consultation was channelled through the overview and scrutiny Boards then people would be more aware of them • Cross Boundary scrutiny • How to manage the balance between what your conscience tells you and what your constituents tell you. It is about decision making • Need to be using existing resources – possible links to budget and planning engagement • Engagement needs to be meaningful – So public will want to get involved • Modernisation – We currently use mainly traditional methods of consultation • Problems include: o The press – negative stories influence the public o How many views do you need for it to be representative o Do you need expert consultation or just a broad spectrum of views o Partnership working brings along its own problems o Ensuring feedback 6.4 Issues & Actions 6.4.1 Use the resources that we have better • Use knowledge of Councillors • Co-option • Swansea Voices 6.4.2 Broaden the Execution of Scrutiny • Cross Border • External Scrutiny 6.4.3. Make it Meaningful for the Public • Pick the right topics that will engage them 6.4.4 Modernise • Use more modern methods for engaging the public 15
    • 7. Critical Friend Role / Self Evaluation Seminar #5: 12th May 2009 7.1 Aims This seminar was led by the WLGA and. The aims of this seminar were to: • Consider the role of Overview & Scrutiny as a “critical friend” • Reflect on current practice in relation to this role • Undertake a self evaluation of Overview & Scrutiny in Swansea 7.2 Input • Dr Rachel Ashworth from Cardiff Business School • Tim Buckle, Welsh Local Government Association • Overview & Scrutiny Unit 7.3 Activities • Presentation and group discussion led by Tim Buckle from the WLGA. Tim had attended a number of Overview & Scrutiny Board meetings to observe how the Boards performed the critical friend role and the support arrangements for this. • Councillors were divided into a number of breakout groups to undertake a self evaluation exercise based on the CfPS self evaluation framework • A facilitated group discussion based on the findings of the self evaluation exercise Reflections on Scrutiny as the Critical Friend: Processes and Practices Tim Buckle, Welsh Local Government Association Purpose of the Presentation • To consider the role of scrutiny as a critical friend • To reflect on current practices The Principles of Good Scrutiny (*www.cfps.org.uk) • Centre for Public Scrutiny – four principles of good scrutiny: o “Provides ‘critical friend’ challenge to executive policy- makers and decision-makers” o “Enables the voice and concerns of the public and its communities” o “Is carried out by ‘independent minded governors’ who lead and own the scrutiny process” 16
    • o “Drives improvement in public services” Centre for Public Scrutiny Self-Evaluation Framework – Critical Friend Challenge • 5 main questions for Authorities to ask themselves: o Does scrutiny provide an effective challenge to the executive? o How does scrutiny have an impact on the work of the executive? o How does scrutiny routinely challenge the authority’s corporate strategy and budget? o Are external partners involved in o & s and how are they included? o Does scrutiny work effectively with the executive and senior management? WLGA Diagnostic Work • Considered: o The structure of scrutiny arrangements o Arrangements for Scrutiny Support o Options for generating enhanced challenge capacity through scrutiny to support service delivery improvements o Processes, procedures and the effectiveness of scrutiny board meetings o The process for developing scrutiny forward work programmes Work Programming – Issues to Consider o The purpose of individual items / the role of the Scrutiny Board – would more clarification be helpful for some items? o The number of agenda items for each Board meeting and how this is determined o The process for determining which witnesses will be invited to attend Board meetings and the specific information the Boards require from witnesses/other sources Processes, Procedures and the Effectiveness of Scrutiny Board Meetings • Issues to Consider o A more structured approach to considering items at Scrutiny Board Meetings? o A more planned approach to developing questioning strategies? o Development sessions for Scrutiny Chairs / Scrutiny Board Members? 17
    • A Possible Structure for Scrutiny Items • Introduction to the item from the Chair / Scrutiny Officer • Discussion on the purpose of the item, the key issues the Board will focus on and the key questions the Board would like answered to fulfil its role • Presentation of report/introduction from the ‘witness’ (e.g. Officer, Executive Member or External witness) • Question and answer session • ‘Witness’ retires from the meeting table whilst Board discusses the evidence they have heard and agrees a way forward Developing Questioning Strategies • What is the role of the Board? • What information does the Board need to fulfil this role? • Who would the Board like to hear from in order to gather the information? • Which questions do you need to ask to get this information? • How will the Board approach the ‘interview’? Options for generating enhanced challenge capacity • Would the following strengthen challenge capacity: o Greater involvement of external witnesses in the scrutiny process (improve evidence base and range of perspective upon which to base conclusions / recommendations)? o Sharing resources, knowledge and expertise with neighbouring authorities to work on joint scrutiny exercises? o Greater involvement of co-opted members? o Undertaking regular reviews of the operation of the scrutiny process? A Closing Thought…. “In my view, it is inconceivable that anyone who really understands what scrutiny is would ever ‘note’ a paper. That is strong evidence, where it occurs, that they have not got it quite right and they have not understood it.”* Jeremy Colman, Auditor General for Wales * The Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee, National Assembly for Wales, Transcript of Meeting, Wednesday, 19 November, 2008 18
    • 7.4 Issues & Actions Critical Friend Role 7.4.1 Work planning is an important aspect of overview & scrutiny and more effective work planning will improve the critical friend challenge and capacity that overview & scrutiny provides to the Executive • A more structured approach to items considered at board meetings • Planned approach to questioning strategies • Determining appropriate witnesses to attend meetings • Identification of specific information that the Board requires Self Evaluation exercise 7.4.2 The self evaluation was based on the Centre for Public Scrutiny’s Self Evaluation Framework. Councillors were asked, in small work groups, to assess a series of statements against a scale with “tend to agree strongly” and “tend to disagree strongly” at the extremes of the scale. Councillors were also asked to feedback which statements they would prioritise to improve overview & scrutiny. 7.4.3 The statements that councillors identified as priorities in the feedback session were: • Overview & Scrutiny councillors have the appropriate skills & competencies to carry out their role effectively - – there is variability between boards and reviews. It was asked what mechanisms are available to share good practice between Boards. It was suggested that the SCG could be used for this purpose • Overview & Scrutiny communicates its message effectively internally & externally – what is the role of scrutiny, raising the profile and the importance of post review follow-up, more targeted communication with specific stakeholder groups • The work of Overview & Scrutiny is regularly informed by the public • Overview & Scrutiny has a high level of engagement from external partners – the importance of understanding who are the partners and stakeholders • Overview & Scrutiny is accessible to the public through a range of mechanisms • Overview & Scrutiny is integrated into corporate processes, priorities & strategy development • Overview & Scrutiny routinely challenges the authority’s corporate strategy & budget – it was suggested that: there was little input from overview & scrutiny on the development of the budget; a look at practice in other authorities may be useful; overview & scrutiny undertake budget monitoring throughout the year to ensure the budget remains aligned with corporate strategy • Members of Overview & Scrutiny have ownership of their own work programme • Overview & Scrutiny operates with political impartiality 19
    • • Overview & Scrutiny councillors have a worthwhile role which contributes to good management & performance of the authority Self Evaluation Exercise Tend to Tend to strongly strongly agree disagree Group 1 Overview & The work of Overview & Overview & Scrutiny works Overview & Scrutiny Scrutiny effectively with Scrutiny is receives operates with the Executive & regularly accurate, timely political senior informed by the & appropriate impartiality management public information Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Scrutiny is Scrutiny has a Scrutiny has Scrutiny is well Scrutiny Scrutiny relevant to the high level of good support co-ordinated communicates councillors have public and other engagement arrangements its message a worthwhile role organisations from external effectively which outside local partners internally & contributes to government externally good management & performance of the authority Members of Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Scrutiny can Scrutiny is Scrutiny can Scrutiny Scrutiny have provide accessible to the provide routinely ownership of evidence that public through a examples of challenges the their own work demonstrates its range of where it has had authority’s programme work has mechanisms an impact on the corporate contributed to work of the strategy & improvement Executive budget Overview & Scrutiny has constructive working relationships with officers across the authority Overview & Scrutiny councillors have the appropriate skills & competencies to carry out their role effectively Overview & Scrutiny is integrated into corporate processes, priorities & strategy development 20
    • Group 2 Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Scrutiny has Scrutiny is well Scrutiny can Scrutiny has a Scrutiny Scrutiny Scrutiny is constructive co-ordinated provide high level of councillors have operates with integrated into working evidence that engagement the appropriate political corporate relationships demonstrates its from external skills & impartiality processes, with officers work has partners competencies to priorities & across the contributed to carry out their strategy authority improvement role effectively development Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Scrutiny works Scrutiny Scrutiny is Scrutiny is Scrutiny Scrutiny Scrutiny has effectively with councillors have relevant to the accessible to the provides routinely good support the Executive & a worthwhile public and other public through a constructive & challenges the arrangements senior role which organisations range of robust challenge authority’s management contributes to outside local mechanisms to the Executive corporate good government strategy & management & budget performance of the authority Overview & Overview & Members of Overview & The work of Scrutiny can Scrutiny Overview & Scrutiny Overview & provide receives Scrutiny have communicates Scrutiny is examples of accurate, timely ownership of its message regularly where it has had & appropriate their own work effectively informed by the an impact on the information programme internally & public work of the externally Executive Group 3 Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Scrutiny Scrutiny is Scrutiny Scrutiny is Scrutiny has Scrutiny is Scrutiny receives relevant to the operates with integrated into constructive accessible to the communicates accurate, timely public and other political corporate working public through a its message & appropriate organisations impartiality processes, relationships range of effectively information outside local priorities & with officers mechanisms internally & government strategy across the externally development authority Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Scrutiny is well Scrutiny can Scrutiny has Scrutiny Scrutiny Scrutiny has a Scrutiny co-ordinated provide good support routinely provides high level of councillors have examples of arrangements challenges the constructive & engagement the appropriate where it has had authority’s robust challenge from external skills & an impact on the corporate to the Executive partners competencies to work of the strategy & carry out their Executive budget role effectively Overview & Overview & Overview & Members of The work of Scrutiny Scrutiny can Scrutiny works Overview & Overview & councillors have provide effectively with Scrutiny have Scrutiny is a worthwhile evidence that the Executive & ownership of regularly role which demonstrates its senior their own work informed by the contributes to work has management programme public good contributed to management & improvement performance of the authority 21
    • Group 4 Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & The work of Overview & Overview & Scrutiny has a Scrutiny has Scrutiny can Scrutiny is Overview & Scrutiny Scrutiny high level of good support provide integrated into Scrutiny is receives communicates engagement arrangements evidence that corporate regularly accurate, timely its message from external demonstrates its processes, informed by the & appropriate effectively partners work has priorities & public information internally & contributed to strategy externally improvement development Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Members of Scrutiny is Scrutiny can Scrutiny Scrutiny Scrutiny is Overview & accessible to the provide councillors have operates with relevant to the Scrutiny have public through a examples of the appropriate political public and other ownership of range of where it has had skills & impartiality organisations their own work mechanisms an impact on the competencies to outside local programme work of the carry out their government Executive role effectively Overview & Overview & Overview & Overview & Scrutiny works Scrutiny Scrutiny has Scrutiny effectively with provides constructive routinely the Executive & constructive & working challenges the senior robust challenge relationships authority’s management to the Executive with officers corporate across the strategy & authority budget Overview & Scrutiny is well co-ordinated 6.4.3 The councillors however, felt there was a disparity between what they viewed as a priority and what they had been asked to prioritise in the grid during the exercise. As a result, each councillor was asked to identify one priority which they felt would improve overview & scrutiny in Swansea: • More public consultation • Raising the profile – communication • Follow up is important – post review process • More control over the work plan • More time to consider things in-depth • Clarity of purpose • Tidy up constitutional anomalies – ie, the difference between overview & scrutiny • Greater use of task and finish groups • Greater ownership of the review by all members of the board • Improvements to the work planning process • Reduce the amount of work • Involvement of the whole board • Councillors who want to be members of a particular board 22
    • • Greater involvement of the whole board in deciding work plans • Pre-meeting preparation and better planning • A “can-do” approach • Better technical training, eg finance • Greater public expectation, selling the key messages • Questioning skills, role of the Chair • Clarity around the purpose of reports to note • Knowing who are the key stakeholders • Full board involvement • Ownership of reviews • Smaller number of topics will enable great in-depth probing 23
    • 8. The Improvement Themes 8.1 Following the five sessions a special meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Coordinating Group identified the following five themes as priority areas for improvement: Develop New Methods of Public Engagement • Innovative use of engagement and participatory methods, review topics that are relevant to the public Improve Relationships with Partners • Understanding overview & scrutiny partners, who they are, mapping the key partners and building relationships Improve Communication • Better communication about overview & scrutiny – internal and external, celebrating success, importance of feedback, greater use of communication resources available, targeted communications Improve the Critical Friend Challenge • Better work planning and meeting preparation, greater use of expert/external witnesses, Chair’s letters, focus on less topics, alignment of councillor’s interests with the subject matter of the boards, greater control over work plans, less items to note Develop Cross-Border Scrutiny • Better understanding of regional issues and joint working methods 8.2 These themes will be implemented through a corporate action plan. 24