Scrutiny

There are four Overview and Scrutiny Committees who support the work of the Policy Board and the Council as a whole. They allow citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by holding inquiries into matters of local concern. These lead to reports and recommendations which advise the Policy Board and the Council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees also monitor the decisions of the Cabinet. The Scrutiny process allows for a decision which has been made by the Cabinet, but not yet implemented, to be ‘called in’. This enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate. Members may recommend that the Cabinet reconsider the decision. They may also be consulted by the Cabinet or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.

General Role

This explanation is based upon the Council's constitution, as agreed by Council on 1 October 2014.

Within their terms of reference, the Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and their sub-committees, will

  1.      Review and/or scrutinise decisions made (and proposed), or actions taken in connection with the discharge of any of the Council’s functions;

  2.      Make reports and/or recommendations to the full Council and/or the Cabinet and/or any policy, joint or area committee in connection with the discharge of any functions;

  3.      Consider any matter affecting the area or its inhabitants; and

  4.      Exercise the right to call-in, for reconsideration, (through the Chairmen’s Group) decisions made but not yet implemented by the Cabinet and/or any policy or area committees.

Specific Functions of Scrutiny Committees

Within their terms of reference, Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and their sub-committees, may

  1.       Assist the Council and the Cabinet in the development of the Council’s budget and policy framework.

  2.       Review and scrutinise the decisions made by and performance of the Cabinet and/or committees and council officers both in relation to individual decisions and over time;

  3.       Review and scrutinise the performance of the Council in relation to its policy objectives, performance targets and/or particular service areas;

  4.       Question members of the Cabinet and/or committees and chief officers about their decisions and performance, whether generally in comparison with service plans and targets over a period of time, or in relation to particular decisions, initiatives or projects;

  5.       Make recommendations to the Cabinet and/or appropriate committee and/or Council arising from the outcome of the scrutiny process;

  6.       Review and scrutinise the performance of other public bodies in the area and invite reports from them by requesting them to address the overview and scrutiny committee and local people about their activities and performance;

  7.       Report and make recommendations to the Council or Cabinet on matters which affect the Council’s area or the inhabitants of the area;

  8.       Question and gather evidence from any person (with their consent), and

  9.       Act as an appeals body for petitions submitted to the Council as set out in the Petitions Procedure

Annual Report

Overview and Scrutiny Committees must report annually to the Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods if appropriate.

The committees are:

Click here for the committee's membership details.

In addition to the councillor membership, other committee members include:

  • 2 Parent Governors (voting)
  • 1 Church of England diocese representative (voting)
  • 1 Roman Catholic diocese representative (voting)
  • 1 representative of other faiths or denominations (voting)
  • 4 Teacher Union Representatives (non voting)

These representatives may discuss non-education matters but shall not vote on those matters identified as being outside their remit.

Terms of reference:

(1)     To monitor, review and make recommendations about County Council Services concerned with the following:

(a)        Education

(b)        Schools

(c)        Lifelong Learning

(d)        Adult/Community Education

(e)        Training/Vocational Education

(f)         Removing barriers to work and learning

(g)        Youth Offending

(h)       Social Services for Children and Young People

(i)         Children’s Health

(j)         Teenage Sexual Health

(k)        Looked After Children

(l)         Safeguarding - Children

(m)       Youth Services

(n)       Family and Children’s Trust

(o)        Family Services

(p)        Children’s Centres

(2)     To oversee and monitor school improvement, as follows:

(a)        To receive feedback on the Ofsted inspection of schools.

(b)       To support the work of the County Council and the progress of schools on the School Intervention and Support Programme in the following categories:-

(i)         schools in special measures;

(ii)        schools issued with an improvement notice;

(ii)        Local authority identified schools;

and, where appropriate, to appoint additional Governors to a School Governing Body, where the school is in one of the categories mentioned above.

(c)     To receive an annual report about the number of schools that have been on the School Intervention and Support Programme, the reason(s) for their inclusion, the support given by the Council and the success of this support.

(d)     To receive an annual report on the performance of schools.

The timetable of the committee's forthcoming meetings can be found here.

Click here for the committee's membership details

Terms of reference:

(1)     To monitor, review and make recommendations about County Council services concerned with the following:

(a)        Community Safety/Crime, fear of crime and crime reduction

(b)        Antisocial behaviour and domestic violence

(c)        Emergency services and Emergency planning

(d)        Trading Standards

(e)        Community Engagement and Empowerment

(f)         Social Inclusion

(g)        Equalities, diversity and community cohesion

(h)       Public service customer care

(i)         Local and Neighbourhood services

(k)        Streetscape and the local environment

(l)         Countryside

(m)       Waste Management

(n)       Climate Change

(o)        Biodiversity and landscape quality

(p)        Energy Use

(2)     To review and scrutinise the performance of external organisations

Details of the timetable of meetings of this committee can be found here.

Click here for the committee's membership details

Terms of reference:

(1)     To monitor, review and make recommendations about County Council functions associated with the following:

(a)       Corporate Services (including: Organisational Development and People, ICT, Legal and Democratic Services, Finance, Procurement, and Communications)

(b)       The development of the Council’s Annual Budget.

(c)        Budgetary Management.

(d)       Regeneration

(e)       Economic Development

(f)        Transport network and infrastructure.

(g)       Housing

(h)       Neighbourhood Planning

(i)         Conservation

(j)         Town centres and offices.

(k)        Workforce and Skills Development and removing barriers to work

(2)      Support to VCS organisations

(3)      To review and scrutinise the performance of external organisations.

The timetable for this committee's meetings can be found here.

Click here for the committee's membership

Terms of reference:

To monitor, review and make recommendations about the following:

(1)     To promote well-being and reduce health inequality, particularly in supporting those people who feel more vulnerable or are at risk.

(2)     To discharge the functions conferred by section 21(f) of the Local Government Act 2000 of reviewing and scrutinising, in accordance with regulations under section 7 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001, matters relating to the planning, provision and operation of health services in Northumberland.

(3)     To take a holistic view of health in order to promote the social, environmental and economic well-being of local people.

(4)     To act as a consultee as required by the relevant regulations in respect of those matters on which local NHS bodies must consult the Committee.

(5)     To make reports and recommendations to local NHS bodies and the County Council on matters relating to the following services/issues in Northumberland:

(a)        Adult Care and Social Services

(b)        Mental Health and emotional well being

(c)        Financial inclusion and fuel poverty

(d)        Welfare of vulnerable people

(e)        Carers well being

(f)         Independent living and supported housing

(g)        Adult Health Services

(h)        Healthy eating and physical activity

(i)         Smoking cessation

(j)         Alcohol and drugs misuse

(k)        Safeguarding - Adults

The timetable of the committees meetings can be found here.

Click here for the committee's membership details

Terms of reference:

To monitor and review the management arrangements between Active Northumberland and the County Council making recommendations specifically around:

(1)       How Active Northumberland is increasing participation in cultural and leisure activity.

(2)       How Active Northumberland is improving quality of life through access to culture and leisure.

(3)       How Active Northumberland is contributing to the delivery of the Councils Corporate Plan.

(4)       How Active Northumberland is supporting economic growth.

(5)       How Active Northumberland is developing and managing the delivery of a Cultural Strategy for the County.

The timetable of the committees meetings can be found here.

Click here for the committee's membership details

Terms of reference:

(1)       To maintain an overview of the County Council’s performance management arrangements.

(2)       To review the state of Northumberland and the County Council’s activity in delivering its Corporate Plan.

(3)       To maintain an overview of the County Council’s operational performance.

(4)       To highlight areas of underperformance and to monitor delivery of recovery plans.

(5)       To make recommendations to the Cabinet as appropriate.

(6)        Overall Council performance.

The timetable of the committees meetings can be found here.

Further Information

The role of the scrutiny committees as defined by the council’s constitution can be found by following this link.

For details of all council meetings, please click here.