Where does Policy
Development & Scrutiny fit within the Councils Decision-making
The main decision making powers in Bath & North East
Somerset Council lie with eight Councillors who sit on the Cabinet. Overview and Scrutiny is the name in
legislation given to the system of checks and balances
implemented by the rest of the Councillors as they monitor the activity of the
Cabinet and also assist them in developing policy. In Bath &
North East Somerset Council, it is known as Policy
Development and Scrutiny.
Different Councils Structure this in different ways, here in
B&NES there is a clear division between the roles
and responsibilities of these two functions:-
is intended to create clear leadership and clear accountability for
By contrast, Policy Development and Scrutiny is intended to review
the work of the Cabinet and to enhance the performance of services.
It is also designed to provide a forum through which policy review
and policy development can be extensively examined before
consideration and decision by the Cabinet and/or Full
The scrutiny function is delivered through 4 Policy Development & Scrutiny Panels (PDS) and one Select
Committee who oversee a specific broad area of work, generally
matching the executive portfolios. These include:
They meet approx. 6-7 times per year.
In addition to regular meetings, Policy Development
and Scrutiny Panel's in Bath & North East
Somerset carry out reviews. These involve
undertaking a mixture of "Overview", "Scrutiny" and "Policy
Development" on a selected subject, which may be a review of a
policy or an investigation of an issue of local concern.
How do PDS Panels and Select Committees
All PDS Panels / Select Committees are initiated and
led by councillors and have a Chair. Membership consists (non-executive) councillors of all parties,
and may also include co-optees from
voluntary organisations, and other outside agencies.
They achieve their impact and effect change through
making recommendations to the Cabinet, Executive Members, Full
Council or partnerships.
PDS Panel / Select Committees formal meetings are
open to the public, and have a slot on the agenda for public
statements. Their agendas and minutes are available to the public.
Scrutiny Inquiry Days are often informal and may not be open to the
public, although their final reports and recommendations will be a
It is standard practice for PDS Panels / Select
Committees to invite people with relevant experience or knowledge
to give information, expert opinion or advice. Such experts may be
Council officers, outside agencies, academics, voluntary
organisations, community or campaign groups, local residents,
service users etc. This brings a wider expertise to bear on the
examination and discussion of issues, and enables a more thorough
What is a Scrutiny Inquiry
This is a mechanism for a short single topic
scrutiny, for use where a formal meeting may not be effective or
appropriate, or to review progress in an area which has already
been the subject of scrutiny work.
The aim is to develop a greater understanding of an
issue that involves many organisations (in addition to the Council)
and then develop ways forward/recommendations in an inclusive
manner, in a workshop-style setting.
In an inquiry like this, it is on-the-day assessment
of findings, and development of conclusions and recommendations (in
conjunction with other interested parties) that differs from a
traditional “contributor session” in more complex
How will the Scrutiny
Enquiry Day achieve an impact?
Recommendations from the day will be submitted to the relevant
Cabinet Member. It equally possible that some of the
recommendations will not require a Cabinet response and these will be submitted to the
appropriate partnership bodies.
Since scrutiny methodology often
involves bringing together practitioners and strategic-level staff
from different sectors and Council departments to act as expert
witnesses, scrutiny activities may have a lasting beneficial effect
beyond their immediate aims, in terms of facilitating communication