We have four Scrutiny Committees that independently monitor how the Council goes about its business and the decisions it makes.
Scrutiny Committees can call upon Councillors and officers to give evidence or explanation about services, and can ‘call in’ decisions made by Cabinet – although not yet implemented – to enable further consideration of the facts.
Scrutiny Committees also have the power to look into the provision of health services and issues that affect the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of the county, scrutinising how well the Council and its partners are meeting targets.
Read our Guide to scrutiny >>
The four Scrutiny Committees are:
Apart from the Council’s own services, Scrutiny Committees have the power to look into the provision of health services and issues which affect the economic, social or environmental well being of the County. They may also scrutinise how well the Council and its partners are fulfilling agreed targets as, for example, set out in crime and disorder strategies.
Scrutiny Committees have a legal power to require Members of the Council’s Cabinet or Officers and NHS officials to attend and give evidence and also to see Council and NHS files and documents on the issues they are investigating. Other people can be invited (but not required) to contribute as well.
Scrutiny Committees have no power to make decisions or to make others act on their suggestions. However, the Council’s Cabinet, relevant partners and NHS bodies must consider and respond to what has been recommended. In relation to health issues, the relevant scrutiny committee can refer things direct to the Secretary of State without needing approval from the Cabinet or the full Council.
When looking into other issues that affect the economic, social or environmental well-being of the county (e.g. flood prevention, climate change or economic infrastructure) a Scrutiny Committee can make recommendations but cannot make other organisations or companies comply with them.
To maintain an effective scrutiny function, Scrutiny Committees need to:
- bring in the views of local people and communities
- help improve council policies and services so they meet people’s needs better, looking at the issues from a resident’s point of view
- contribute to the review and development of council policies, to make sure that they do what was intended
- make sure the council is open about the way decisions are made
- make sure the council measures its own performance and regularly reports in public on how well it is keeping its promises
- hold the Cabinet and those officers responsible for putting policy in place and delivering services to account
- look beyond the authority at issues and organisations that affect local quality of life
- help better joining up of public and other services
- focus on outcome and improvement.
Public Participation in Scrutiny
Any resident (of the administrative county) of Devon may speak* on any substantive matter listed on the agenda of any Scrutiny Committee (i.e. other than matters for information or administrative business); excluding the Annual Joint Scrutiny Committee meeting where separate arrangements apply.
Any person wishing so to do must register their desire to speak, in writing (by letter, fax or email), by 9:00am on the (working) day immediately preceding the day of meeting of the relevant Scrutiny Committee – giving a brief outline of the point(s) or issue(s) they wish to raise. If more than one person wishes to make the same point or make similar representations, those persons may be asked to agree a spokesman to make a single presentation.
Any statements/representation shall be limited to 3 minutes per person, within an overall time limit of 15 minutes. Any and all such statements/representations will be taken together at the beginning of the relevant Scrutiny Committee, immediately after consideration of any urgent business. If there are more than 5 persons wishing to speak the Chairman may reduce the amount of time for each person. For best effect, any statement/representations should be short and concise and must not be defamatory or offensive. No writing or photographic material may be circulated around a meeting during any presentation.
Direct or specific questions to Members or Officers will not be accepted but, in making any statement/representation, a person may of course pose a general inquiry or suggestion that they would wish the Committee to have regard to in the course of its subsequent deliberations. There will be no debate on or response given to any statements/representations made at that time: the Committee will have regard to all issues so raised during its consideration of the substantive matter later in that meeting.
You can find out what will be on the agenda of a Scrutiny Committee and details of whom to contact to register to speak on our Committees page. Please see the relevant Scrutiny Committee.
Please also note that the introduction of any form of public speaking at Scrutiny Committees does not preclude or prevent a Scrutiny Committee or Task Group from inviting members of the public or interested parties to give evidence (as happens now) when gathering data etc., for a particular piece of work.
*This facility is being introduced on a trial basis for 12 months from March 2016 subject to review thereafter.
In line with the process which has evolved over a number of years, the 2017/18 budget will be scrutinised collectively by Members, with a joint all-day session of Scrutiny Committees to be held on 30 January 2017. This will be following individual Scrutiny meetings, where members can look in detail at the Budget proposals.
Members are also able to submit questions of fact or about the interpretation of the papers, in advance of the joint session and all the questions received and the responses will be published here.