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Agenda Item No. 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Democratic Services Committee: 10th February, 2016

 

Report of the Head of Democratic Services

 

Member Scrutiny Satisfaction Survey

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To inform the Committee of the outcome of the Member Satisfaction Survey regarding scrutiny.

Recommendations

  1. That Members' comments be welcomed.
  2. That the outcome of the survey be noted.
  3. That the introduction of arrangements for public speaking at Scrutiny Committees be welcomed.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To inform the Council's scrutiny arrangements.
  2. As above.
  3. To acknowledge the work undertaken designed to enhance public engagement / participation in the Scrutiny process.

Background

  1. Scrutiny is an important element of the Council's decision-making processes. It enables Members to help develop policy, challenge decisions and hold the Executive to account on behalf of the people of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Members' views regarding the Council's Scrutiny arrangements were last sought in March 2014. In summary, the outcome of the survey was that, in term terms of officer support (i.e. that provided by both the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section and other officers) responses received indicated that satisfaction levels were good. Similarly, there was general satisfaction regarding the Overview and Scrutiny process itself. However, and as anticipated, Members clearly felt there was room for improvement in terms of the level of coverage / interest in the work of Scrutiny Committees. However, it was noted at the time that the response rate to the survey was somewhat disappointing.
  2. It was obviously important that Members' own views on existing support / mechanisms were obtained on an ongoing basis and, where practicable, taken into account. Following consideration by the Group at an earlier meeting, a survey form was also considered by the Democratic Services Committee and then circulated to all Members of the Council and to Co-opted Members of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).
  3. The broad areas to be covered in the survey were as follows:
  • Support provided by the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Team (before, during and after meetings)
  • Support provided by other officers (before, during and after meetings)
  • Quality of reports produced
  • The profile of Scrutiny
  • The process for selecting subjects for Task and Finish Reviews
  • Responses of the Cabinet to Scrutiny Committees' recommendations
  • The value added by Scrutiny to the decision-making process within the Council
  • The value added by Scrutiny Committees to performance management / service improvement
  • The level of public involvement in the Scrutiny process
  • The level of media coverage / interest in the work of Scrutiny Committees
  • The evaluation of Council projects with a view to ensuring maximum effectiveness and impact
  • The monitoring and follow-up work relating to Scrutiny Committees' recommendations (i.e. decision-tracking)
  • The level of training received by / offered to Members in both their Scrutiny and Councillor roles.
  1. A summary of the results of the survey is attached at Appendix A. It can be seen that, as in 2014, satisfaction levels in respect of support provided by officers (i.e. by both the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section and other officers) are very good. Similarly, there remains general satisfaction regarding the Overview and Scrutiny process generally. However, and as again anticipated, Members clearly felt there remained room for improvement in terms of the level of coverage/interest in the work of Scrutiny Committees.
  2. In terms of raising the profile of Scrutiny and seeking to increase public participation/engagement, Members will be aware of the recent work undertaken to facilitate formal arrangements for public speaking at Scrutiny Committees. These new arrangements came into force earlier this month and members of the public now have a right to register to speak (or submit written representations) on any item contained on a Scrutiny Committee agenda. A Guide to Public Speaking at Scrutiny Committees has been produced and (together with the registration form and accompanying details) is available on the Council's website. The arrangements will be monitored and both the Democratic Services Committee and the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group will be kept updated as to the level of public participation.
  3. Members are also asked to note that following a restructuring of the Council's Communications Unit, which is currently underway, officers from Democratic and Scrutiny Services will seek to liaise with officers in the revised Communications Unit regarding further ways in which the profile of scrutiny can be increased.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

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

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Council is required to comply with the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 in terms of its Scrutiny arrangements.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Corporate Plan 2013-17 contains a specific action to develop a protocol for the public to give evidence at Scrutiny and Planning Committees and increase public participation in meetings. This has now been implemented.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The outcome of the survey, and any suggested changes arising as a result, will be reported to the Group and subsequently submitted to Cabinet / Council as appropriate for consideration.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. This is an internal matter and no consultation has, therefore, been necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. All.

Background Papers

Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 and associated guidance documents.

Report to Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group: 13th October 2015.

Report to Democratic Services Committee: 21st October 2015.

Contact Officer

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

Officers Consulted

Managing Director

Responsible Officer:

Mr. J. Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services

 

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