Top

Top

Agenda Item No. 4

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 18th July 2013

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Central South Consortium Joint Education Service: Joint Scrutiny Committee

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To apprise Members of progress towards the establishment of arrangements for joint scrutiny of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service and seek agreement to the proposed Terms of Reference for the Joint Scrutiny Committee.

Recommendations

1.             That progress to date be noted.

2.             That the draft Terms of Reference for the Joint Scrutiny Committee, as set out in the report, be endorsed.

Reason for the Recommendations

1&2     To facilitate the Council's involvement in joint scrutiny arrangements.

Background

2.             The Welsh Government is encouraging local authorities to establish joint scrutiny arrangements to support robust governance of the increased range of services delivered in partnership with other Councils or public, third sector or private organisations.  With this in mind, it is considered opportune to establish such arrangements in respect of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service. 

Relevant Issues and Options

3.             For some time, Scrutiny Officers from the five constituent authorities (Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan) have been in discussion regarding the potential establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee.  An officer funded by the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) is also involved in the project and has been engaged in the drawing up of suggested draft Terms of Reference.

4.             In addition to facilitating scrutiny of the service itself, it is considered that there would also be an opportunity for both Members and officers to learn how to scrutinise a regional consortium and to develop practices and procedures that could be applied to other future partnership arrangements that the Council might enter into.  Arrangements will need to provide for scrutiny of education services allowing strategic issues affecting all five authorities to be scrutinised at a regional level, whilst still allowing issues pertinent to any one authority to be scrutinised at a single Council level.

5.             Council, on 26th June 2013, was informed of the forthcoming establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee.  The Joint Committee will act as a "critical friend" to the Joint Education Committee (i.e. the executive arm of the collaborative arrangement) and will mirror the executive arrangements in that each of the five constituent authorities will have two representatives on the Joint Committee. 

6.             The Local Authorities (Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2013 govern the procedures which are to be followed by local authorities in establishing joint scrutiny arrangements and include the following provisions:  

"5.-(1)    The persons eligible for appointment as members of a joint overview and scrutiny committee in accordance with regulation 3(1) are -

(a)          members, other than executive members, of the appointing authorities; and

(b)          persons appointed in accordance with paragraph 8 or 9 of Schedule 1 to the2000 Act to an overview and scrutiny committee of any of the appointing authorities.

(2)          The members of a joint overview and scrutiny committee appointed in accordance with regulation 3(1) must comprise an equal number of persons from each of the appointing authorities.

(3)          A Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee is not to be regarded as a body to which Section 15 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (1) (Duty to Allocate Seats to Political Groups) applies.

(4)          Each appointing authority must ensure that, as far as practicable, the members of a joint overview and scrutiny committee who fall within paragraph (1)(a) reflect the balance of political groups for the time being prevailing among the members of the appointing authority."

7.             Taking into account the above provisions (particularly paragraph 5(4), the Council's two seats on the Joint Scrutiny Committee fall to the Labour and Conservative Groups.  The two nominated representaives (as notified to Council on 26th June 2013) are Councillor Rhiannon Birch (Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and Councillor Andrew Parker (Member of the Scrutiny Committee Lifelong Learning).

8.             It should be noted that the establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee is not intended to replicate, or duplicate, the role of the individual authorities' Scrutiny Committees.  Its primary focus will be to hold the Consortium to account in terms of delivering school improvement services.  Responsibility for scrutinising the performance of individual education services and / school will remain with each of the constituent authorities.  However, in order to ensure Member awareness of the work of the Joint Scrutiny Committee, minutes of its meeting will be reported to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information.

9.             It is anticipated that the Joint Committee will meet at least four times a year initially.

10.        In order to assist Members' awareness, attached at Appendix A is the overall governance structure of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service.  The draft Terms of Reference are attached at Appendix B.  Following consideration by the Committee, they will be reported to Council in September for approval.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

11.        The constituent authorities' scrutiny officers have commissioned the Centre for Public Scrutiny to facilitate the development of a joint bid to the Welsh Government's Scrutiny Development Fund for a co-ordinator post to support the work of the Joint Scrutiny Committee.  The post is intended to provide the Joint Committee with dedicated analytical and project management support and monitor the delivery of effective school improvement services and resultant improved educational outcomes.  A Project Steering Group, comprising Scrutiny officers from the constituent authorities and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Scrutiny Committee will be established to oversee the project.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        The Council is required to comply with the provisions of the Local Authorities (Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2013 in participating in any joint overview and scrutiny arrangements.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.        None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        As indicated above, arrangements will need to provide for scrutiny of education services allowing strategic issues affecting all five authorities to be scrutinised at a regional level, whilst still allowing issues pertinent to any one authority to be scrutinised at a single Council level.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.        As indicated earlier in the report, following consideration by the Committee, the draft Terms of Reference will be reported to Council in September for approval.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.        This is a matter between the constituent authorities and scrutiny officers have worked collectively in progressing this matter.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

Local Authorities (Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2013

Report to Council: 26th June 2013

 

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, Operational Manager (Democratic Services), Tel: (01446) 709408

 

Officers Consulted

Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Siân Davies, Managing Director