Agenda item

Overview and Scrutiny Six Monthly Report - Report of Chair of Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Board


The Council noted a six-monthly update report from Overview and Scrutiny.


Councillor C Martin, Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Board presented the Overview and Scrutiny update which set out some of the activity undertaken in the past six months.


Councillor Martin informed Council that he was honoured to be appointed Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Board in May 2021 and with the support of his Vice Chair, Cllr Chris Lines, new scrutiny Members and new Chairs and Vice Chairs of committees had been welcomed in the past six months.


Scrutiny was taking a refreshed approach to its work by encouraging inclusiveness and transparency.  It was developing its input into policy development and was working hard to ensure scrutiny was effective.


It continued to implement the scrutiny process in accordance with the four principles of effective scrutiny:

·                    To provide a constructive critical friend challenge

·                    To amplify the voices and concerns of the public

·                    To be led by independent minded people who took responsibility for their role

·                    To drive improvement in public services


Much of the work of Scrutiny had featured the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on service delivery and more recently understanding service restoration and recovery.


Councillor Martin provided the following examples of the work covered to date.


The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Board had contributed to Cabinet’s review on options for the DLI Museum and Art Gallery building and surrounding grounds.  The outcomes of a meeting held had formed part of the evidence for the review by Cabinet.  The Board had contributed to the budget process through consideration and scrutiny of the MTFP.  In these times of financial challenges, uncertainty for local government funding and increasing budgetary pressures this was a significant and important role for scrutiny.


Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Councillor Chris Hood with Councillor James Cosslett scrutinised the development of a new SEND Strategy, considered the key findings following the focused Ofsted inspection in 2021 and received an update on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.


Economy and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Councillor Bill Moist with Councillor Andrew Jackson had received a presentation from Visit County Durham looking at the visitor economy. 


The Committee had been updated on new masterplans to support potential Levelling Up Fund bids and examined the approach to developing key strategic employment sites in the county.


The Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Councillor Bev Coult with Councillor Jonathan Elmer had considered the latest Climate Emergency Response Plan and continued to monitor the Single Use Plastics action plan.  The Committee had begun work on looking at the evidence base to determine if there was a need to declare an Ecological Emergency in the County, to feed into future decisions Cabinet would make.


The Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, led by Councillor Pat Jopling and Councillor Rochelle Charlton-Lainé had considered proposals to review services provided at Shotley Bridge Community Hospital; examined plans across the health and social care system for both surge and cold weather activity on admissions in 2021 and also reviewed progress against recommendations made by a previous scrutiny review into GP services in County Durham.


The Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Councillor Joyce Charlton with Councillor Brian Avery had considered presentations on arson and deliberate fire setting, received an overview of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and had taken part in focused briefing sessions on substance abuse and anti-social behaviour.  Councillor Avery was a big loss to the Scrutiny team.


Councillor Martin thanked officers that supported the work of Scrutiny, the chairs and vice chairs who lead the work programs they formulated and all Members who had taken part in the Committees.

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