Agenda item

Work Programme (Agenda Item 6)

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

Minutes:

The Member Services Manager presented the report, which outlined a work programme for the Commission for 2009-10, based on best practice, covering:

§         Key strands:

i)          Partnership scrutiny

ii)         Holding the decision makers to account

iii)        Performance monitoring

iv)        Contract monitoring

§         Stand-alone (minor) reviews by the Commission

§         Reports of Task and Finish Groups

§         Annual reports

§         Pre-scrutiny items (i.e. key decisions)

§         Standing items (e.g. call-ins, items arising under Councillor Call for Action (once mechanism adopted), Corporate Forward Plan, OSC work programme for forward planning purposes)

 

Themed topics identified for the 2009 Programme and Task and Finish Groups, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report, were:

 

1.      Local Development Framework (LDF)

2.      Health

3.      Waste and Recycling

4.      Transport and Parking

5.      Rural Issues Agenda

6.      Sewage and Flooding

7.      Youth Issues

 

The Council on 29 January 2009 had approved the new scrutiny arrangements and protocols, together with the appointment of Messrs. M. Kiddle-Morris, R.G. Kybird and J.D. Rogers as the three Task and Finish Chairmen under the revised arrangements.  The appointment of members to Task and Finish Groups would be drawn from non-Executive members of the Council by the Task and Finish Chairmen.

 

It was proposed that there should be a standing Task and Finish Group for the LDF, whose membership would be drawn in the main from the members of the former Policy Development and Review Panel 1 to ensure that their knowledge and experience on the subject was retained.  Mr. M. Kiddle-Morris would be the Chairman of this Group and he explained that he felt that there was a need for additional representation on the Group covering the Attleborough area (previously there had been only one Attleborough member on the Panel).   Mr. Kiddle-Morris would, therefore, be contacting members for Attleborough and the surrounding area to discuss appointments.

 

The opportunity to be able to draw on external expertise for the LDF Group would also be taken up where appropriate, for example to involve members and officers of the Thetford Growth Point team or the Attleborough Area Action Plan team.

 

The need to establish the LDF Group as soon as possible to meet the LDF timetable was noted.

 

In answer to a question, it was noted that there was no statutory requirement for Task and Finish Groups to be politically balanced and that for small Groups of, say, five or six members there was likely to be little or no scope to do so given the current political balance of the Council.  However, it was accepted that it was relevant to maintain the political balance when dealing with issues covering the Thetford area but that for the Attleborough area, say, this would not apply as all the members were of one party.

 

Another member highlighted the need to ensure the rural wards were well represented on the LDF group, as he felt the rural parishes could be more adversely affected than the towns by the impact of the LDF policies.

 

Members also accepted that any external or expert persons co-opted to Groups should be on a non-voting basis.

 

It was proposed that the three Task and Finish Group Chairmen should meet to determine the remaining programme of reviews.

 

So far as the draft OSC Work Programme set out in Appendix 2 of the report was concerned, Lady Fisher suggested that as she and Mr. Askew shared responsibility for the Leisure Contract monitoring, they both attend the meeting on 26 March in place of Mr. Claussen.

 

On the question of Executive Member attendance, it was explained that as well as a standing general item for Executive Members to attend to speak and answer questions on key ongoing issues and policies within their portfolios, the procedures also provided for the relevant Executive Member to attend for specific matters under review.  Members felt there should also be a requirement for the relevant Director/Service Manager to attend for items.

 

It was also suggested agenda items should, where feasible, be matched with the attending Executive Member.

 

Following the successful election recently of the new Youth Council, members endorsed a proposal that they should be actively engaged in the scrutiny process.   It was confirmed that discussions were taking place on the way forward, including looking at the possibility of fitting meetings into the school timetable and venues, and Mrs. Irving, the Council’s Young People’s Champion, welcomed members’ endorsement of the new Youth Council.

 

RESOLVED that

 

(1)    the OSC Work Programme (including the rotation of venues) as set out in Appendix 2 of the report be approved, subject to

 

§         the substitution of Lady Fisher and Mr. S. Askew as the attending Executive Members for the meeting on 26 March 2009 in place of Mr. P. Claussen

§         where appropriate, agenda items being matched to the attending Executive Member’s portfolio

§         the relevant Directors/Service Managers be required to attend for consideration of review items

 

(2)    an LDF Task and Finish Group be established on the basis of the membership of the former Policy Development and Review Panel 1, to include a proportionate increase in the number of members representing the Attleborough area;

(3)    the use of external or expert co-optees, where appropriate, be endorsed, such membership to be on a non-voting basis;

(4)    the remaining programme for Task and Finish Group reviews be determined at a meeting of the three Group Chairmen.

Supporting documents: