Singing our praise

Every year the scrutiny committees publish their annual report describing what they have been up to and what they have achieved. In Devon, we maintain a strong tradition of task group work – sub-groups of committees who look into an issue in great detail and make recommendations for improvements, and 225 people participated in the process during the year.

Being able to trace tangible outcomes is one of the challenges scrutiny faces but this year, we have achieved a number of things, including:

–         Following the task group to form the Armed Forces Community Covenant, the permanent Devon Armed Forces Community Covenant was signed on the 16 May 2012 by e.g. MPs, a Government Minister, The First Sea Lord, Commander of the Land Forces and District and City Council Leaders.

–         The Place Scrutiny Committee was instrumental in having the civil parking enforcement service reviewed. In line with the Committee’s suggestion, the Cabinet agreed to serve Notice on the Devon District Councils to terminate the current agency agreements for civil parking enforcement by the end of March 2013 in order to begin the process of improving the service and reducing an operational deficit.

–         During the year, we received feedback from parish councils on the winter maintenance task group which concluded in June 2010, stressing that the group “successfully instigated many positive outcomes” and “made a huge difference to the daily lives of so many people”.

–         The access to health services in rural areas was reviewed in detail in 2010. A follow-up review concluded that telecare services are now available to patients who self-fund; maternity services have significantly improved and the low-risk birthing units in Honiton, Okehampton and Tiverton had seen an 8% increase in births. Often the small things made a big difference and members were pleased that, for example, voluntary drivers were now issued with hospital parking permits by the acute hospitals, whereas before they had struggled with the car parking arrangements.

This year’s annual report will be presented to the last meeting of the County Council before the elections, on 25 April so keep an eye out for the full report with all the details!