North Yorkshire County Council


Corporate and Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee


6  June 2022


Overview and Scrutiny at North Yorkshire County Council



1.         Purpose of Report


1.1      The purpose of this report is to provide Members of the Corporate and Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a summary of how overview and scrutiny is undertaken at the Council, the way in which subjects for scrutiny areidentified, why it is important and what role committee Members have to play.


1.2      This report provides Members with details of some of the specific responsibilities and powers relating to this committee andalso a copy of the committee work programme for review andcomment.


2.         Overview and Scrutiny


2.1      The Local Government Act 2000 first introduced the requirement for every local authority to include provision for at least one scrutiny committee. Under this Act and associated legislation, scrutiny can make recommendations to the executive and other local bodies. The committees also have the power to question Cabinet members, Council officers and representatives of other organisations, such as health and community safety agencies.  The committees can also investigate any issue which affects the local area or its residents.


2.2      For more detail on the roles and responsibilities of the overview and scrutiny committees have, please refer to the North Yorkshire County Council Constitution –


3.         Why it is important


3.1      Overview and scrutiny provides an important check and balance, helping to ensure that the decisions made by the executive reflect the needs of local people, are financially robust and are in keeping with the strategic priorities and responsive to the operational demands of the Council.


3.2      Where overview and scrutiny is not active, engaged and inquisitive, then there is a risk that some strategic and operational issues could be overlooked and opportunities for early intervention and action missed.  Examples of where this has occurred in other localauthorities, albeit atthe extreme, include: child sexual exploitation in Rotherham MBC; poor care and high mortality rates at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust; and governance failings in Tower Hamlets LBC.


4.         How it contributes to the Councils outcomes


4.1      In addition to being an important check and balance and providing early warning, scrutiny aims to contribute to the Council’s corporate outcomes in many other ways, including:

·            Enabling Councillors to become directly involved in the development of: policy and strategy; consultation and public engagement planning; and the performance management of the Council

·            Keeping Councillors and the public informed of key issues, priorities and initiatives

·            Enabling direct engagement with the people of North Yorkshire

·            Acting as a critical friend and providing Cabinet Members and senior officers with a non-partisan forum in which to test out ideas, approaches and gain feedback and suggestions

·            Providing astructure, through the call-in process, for scrutinising specific decisions of the Executive

·            Scrutinising issues of public concern beyond the remit of the Council.


5.         The overview and scrutiny committees


5.1      There are five thematic overview and scrutiny committees, each of which meet in public four times a year, as below:

·            Transport, Economy and Environment – focussed upon transport and communications infrastructure, supporting business andhelping people develop their skills, sustainable development, climate change, countryside management, waste management,environmental conservation and cultural issues.

·            Corporate and Partnerships - the Councils corporate organisation and structure, resource allocation, asset management, procurement policy, people strategy, equality and diversity, performance management, communications, partnership working, community development and engagement and community safety (as the designated Crime andDisorder Committee).

·            Young People – focussed upon the interests of young people, including education, care and protection and family support.

·            Care and Independence – focussed upon the needs of vulnerableadults and older people and people whose independence needs to be supported by intervention from the public or voluntary sector.

·            Health - focussed upon the planning, provision and operation of health services in the County with theaim of acting as a lever to improve the health of local people and ensuring that the needs of the local people are considered as an integral part of the delivery and development of health services.


5.2       Overview and scrutiny functions are also supported through the following bodies:

·            Scrutiny Board – this is made up of the Chairs of the five thematic overview and scrutiny committees and enables work to be co-ordinated, opportunities for joint scrutiny to be identified, and committee Chairs to act as critical friends.

·            Police and Crime Panel - which scrutinises the Police and Crime Commissioner.

·            There is also a Complaints Sub-Committee which meets on an ad hoc basis.

·            Looked After Children’s Members Group – this is not a formal committee but acts as an informal advisory group to the Executive Portfolio Holder for Children's and Young Peoples Services.  The group performs a role consistent with statutory guidance for local authorities to promote the health and well-being of looked-after children.


6.         Mid Cycle Briefings


6.1      In addition to formal meetings of the committees, there is also a system of Mid Cycle Briefings.  A Mid Cycle Briefing enables the Chair, Vice Chair and Spokespersons for each committee to meet in private four times a year to: discuss the work of the committee; identify areas for in-depth scrutiny; and have an early discussion with commissioners and providers about topics that may be confidential or under development.


7.         Different approaches to overview and scrutiny


7.1      In addition to formal committee meetings and Mid Cycle Briefings, there are a number of approaches that overview andscrutiny can take, including:

·            Task and finish groups – these are informal, time-limited bodies comprised of councillors that are established by the committee to undertake a discrete piece of scrutiny work and then report back their findings and recommendations.

·            In-depth scrutiny review – this is when the committee undertakes a prolonged and detailed piece of work, which includes: desktop research; expert witnesses, typically commissioners and providers; service/site visits; and engagement with service users. This approach combines formal committee meetings and the use of a sub-group.

·            Select Committee – where an overview and scrutiny committee works as a whole committee to address a particular issue.  Typically, this would involve a one-off meeting lasting a day where a range of expert witnesses are invited to attend and give evidence.  The committee members then analyse the evidence givenand make recommendations for improvements.

·            Call-in – this is when non-executive members of the Council can have decisions of the Executive considered by a scrutiny committee.

·            Joint scrutiny – this is when thereis an issue that is directly relevant tomore than one overview and scrutiny committee and so a collaborative approach is taken. This can be internal or external.  External joint scrutiny is often undertaken by the Scrutiny of Health Committee.


8.         Role of committee members


8.1      All the members of an overview and scrutiny committee have a key role to play in ensuring that Council and other public sector services are delivered effectively, efficiently and that they achieve good outcomes for localpeople.  The things that committee members can do include:

·            Contributing to the development of the committee’s work programme, providing constructive challenge and suggesting topics for inclusion

·            Actively engaging with all stages of the scrutiny process, including any additional groups or meetings that are setup outside of the scheduled, formal meetings of the committee

·            Developingconstructive relationships with other members of the committee,the relevant portfolio holders and service leads

·            Working apolitically as a committee, with a strong focus upon service improvement and outcomes

·            Receiving the data, information and analysis that is presented in an impartial manner

·            Assessing the data, information andanalysis presented to the committee and testing the conclusions that are drawn

·            Contributing to the development of recommendations, based on the committees deliberations, which are specific, realistic and relevant.


9.         Corporate and Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee


9.1      The Corporate and Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee have a specific legal duty, under the Police and Justice Act 2006, to act asthe crime and disorder overview and scrutiny committee.  This means that the committee has the power to:

·            Review or scrutinise decisions made, or action taken, in connection with the discharge by the responsible authorities of their crime and disorder functions

·            Make reports or recommendations to the local authority with respect to the discharge of those functions.


10.       Work programme


10.1    The topics for overviewand scrutiny are identified by the committee Chairs, Vice- Chairs, Spokespersons and Members, advised by the relevant overviewand scrutiny officer, using some of the following sources of information:

·            Performance data, information and analysis, in particular when it has been benchmarked against similar local authorities

·            Inspection reports, such as those produced by the Care Quality Commission or

·            OFSTED

·            National research findings

·            National policy changes

·            National and local consultations and public engagement events

·            County Council Plan

·            County Council budget and delivery against savings proposals andtargets

·            Agendas for Executive

·            Local issues raised by elected members, members of the public or highlighted in the media

·            Local networks and partnerships.


10.2    Where an initial area of interestor line of inquiry is identified, further information is gathered to ascertain whether this is a valid area for scrutiny that will add value and not duplicate work that is already underway.



10.3    On every agenda for formal meetings of the overview and scrutiny committees, there is an item on the committee work programme.  This provides Members with an opportunity to reflect on the issues that have been identified and assure themselves thatthey are appropriate for the committee.


10.4    The draft work programme for this committee is in Appendix 1.


10.5    Future meeting and mid cycle briefing dates for this municipal year are listed below:



Scheduled Committee



6 June





12 September





5 December






12 March





Scheduled Mid Cycle



Attended by Group

Spokespersons only


25 July





24 October





16 January







17 April





Agenda Briefings - will be held at 9.30am on the day of the committee meeting


11.       Further information


11.1    Further information on Overview and Scrutiny is available on the North Yorkshire County Council website -


11.2    The overview and scrutiny officer supportingthe work of this committee is:


Melanie Carr

Principal Democratic Services & Scrutiny Officer

Tel: 01609 533849


11.3    Committee papers are available from the North Yorkshire County Council website as follows -


12.       Recommendation


12.1    Members are recommended to:

i.     Review the Committees draft work programme at Appendix 1, taking into account issues highlighted in this report, the outcome of discussions on previous agenda items and any other developments taking place across the County.

ii.    Agree any amendments/additions to the draft work programme



Melanie Carr

Principal Democratic Services & Scrutiny Officer

Tel: 01609 533849

26 May 2022