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Agenda Item No. 6

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Democratic Services Committee: 21st October, 2015

 

Report of the Head of Democratic Services

 

'Good Scrutiny? Good Question!': Auditor General for Wales Improvement Study: Scrutiny in Local Government

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To receive an updated Action Plan (attached as Appendix A)
  2.   in response to the specific recommendations and various other elements of the Wales Audit Office Scrutiny Improvement Study.

Recommendation

That the Action Plan be noted and included as a standing item on future meetings of the Committee.

Reason for the Recommendation

To further apprise Members of actions being taken in respect of the specific recommendations contained in the Wales Audit Officer Report as appropriate.

Background

  1. As previously reported to the Committee, in 2012, the Auditor General committed to the Wales Audit Office (WAO) undertaking an All-Wales Scrutiny Improvement Study. As part of the Council's participation in that Study, a group of Officers and Members undertook a self-evaluation of the Council's existing scrutiny arrangements, took part in peer review exercises and attended workshops. As part of the peer review exercise, two meetings of our Scrutiny Committees were observed by a group from Neath and Port Talbot Council and the Council's own Peer Review Group observed Scrutiny Committee proceedings at Swansea Council.
  2. The WAO Outcome Report from the above Study was only issued in the Summer of 2014 and has been the subject of reports to the Committee in July and October 2014. At the October meeting, it was resolved that officers prepare an Action Plan for consideration at this meeting. The draft Action Plan has since been considered by the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group and this Committee. The headings "Outcomes" and "Related Characteristics" relate to the Key Characteristics of Effective Overview and Scrutiny, which, in turn, led to the development of an agreed set of outcomes and characteristics, developed by the Wales Scrutiny Officers' Network, supported by the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS).
  3. Given the various elements of the draft Plan that relate to the interaction between Scrutiny and Cabinet, a joint "workshop" for Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet Members was also held in July 2015 to inform the progress of the Action Plan.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The 9 specific recommendations of the Auditor General have been reported previously and are covered in the Action Plan. Again, as previously reported, each will need to be considered by a combination (as appropriate) of Councils, Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, the WAO and other regulators such as CSSIW and Estyn.
  2. Consideration of the issues covered will assist the Council in preparing for a future Corporate Assessment by the WAO.
  3. Members are asked to note in particular progress on the following (which is alluded to in the Action Plan):
  • Officers are currently working on a protocol governing relationships between Scrutiny Committees / Cabinet Members and Officers and clarifying various issues in respect of the scrutiny process generally.
  • Officers are liaising with regard to establishing closer correlation between the work programmes of Scrutiny, Cabinet and external regulators.
  • The fact that a number of actions have been incorporated within the wider Corporate Assessment Action Plan which has been drawn up in anticipation of next year's WAO corporate assessment of the Council.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report. However, dependent on consideration by the Committee, Cabinet and Council as appropriate of the draft Action Plan, resource implications will need to be monitored.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Whilst the Auditor General's report is not a statutory document, the nature of the Study undertaken requires the Council to give comprehensive consideration to its content, particularly the nine specific recommendations set out in the report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Council is committed to developing/increasing public engagement and participation at meetings.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. Any future changes proposed would need to be considered by the Cabinet and/or Council as appropriate.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. No consultation has been necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Resources

Background Papers

'Good Scrutiny? Good Question!': Auditor General for Wales Improvement Study: Scrutiny in Local Government

Reports to Democratic Services Committee - 16th July and 8th October, 2014 and 15th April, 2015.

Reports to Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group - 30th April, 2014 and 24th February, 2015.

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services (tel: 01446 709408)

Officers Consulted

None

Responsible Officer:

Jeff Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services

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