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 Policy Board. The Scrutiny process allows for a decision which has been made by the Policy Board, but not yet implemented, to be ‘called in’. This enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate. Members may recommend that the Policy Board reconsider the decision. They may also be consulted by the Policy Board 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 April 1st 2009.

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

  1. Review and/or scrutinise decisions made 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 Executive 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;
  4. Exercise the right to call-in, for reconsideration, (through the Overview and Scrutiny Chairmen's Working Group) decisions made but not yet implemented by the Executive 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 Executive in the development of the Council’s budget and policy framework.
  2. Review and scrutinise the decisions made by and performance of the Executive 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 Executive 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 Executive 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 Executive on matters which affect the Authority’s area or the inhabitants of the area;
  8. Question and gather evidence from any person (with their consent). 

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 details of councillors who sit on the committee.

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.

Functions:

To monitor, review and make recommendations about the following services of the County Council:

  • Education
  • Schools
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Adult/Community Education
  • Training/ vocational education
  • Removing barriers to work and learning
  • Youth Offending
  • Every Child Matters
  • Social Services for Children and Young People
  • Children’s health
  • Teenage sexual health
  • Looked after children
  • Safeguarding
  • Youth Services
  • Family and Children’s Trust
  • Family Services
  • Sure-start

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

Click here for the committee's membership details

Functions:

  • To create sustainable communities – places that offer everyone a decent home that they can afford in a quality environment in which they want to live, now and in the future.
  • To ensure that our communities have a sense of civic values, responsibility and pride and as such they feel safe, valued and respected.
  • To liaise with external partners and organisations operating in the area to ensure the interests of local people are enhanced by collaborative working.
  • Community Safety/ Crime, fear of crime and crime reduction
  • Anti social behaviour and domestic violence
  • Emergency services and Emergency planning
  • Trading Standards
  • Community Engagement and Empowerment
  • Social Inclusion
  • Equalities, diversity and community cohesion
  • Support to VCS organisations
  • Public service customer care/ neighbourhood services
  • Housing
  • Culture and Leisure (libraries, parks, open spaces and play areas)
  • Streetscape and the local environment
  • Environment (Development Plans, Conservation, Countryside, Waste management)
  • Land use planning
  • Climate Change
  • Biodiversity and landscape quality
  • Energy Use

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

Click here for the committee's membership details

Functions:

To maintain and improve the economic growth and performance of the County whilst ensuring that all residents can share in high living standards

  • Corporate issues (Finance, Procurement, Human Resources, Legal, Democratic Services, Policy and Partnerships, IT, Communications and Asset Management)
  • Monitor overall Council performance
  • Assist the Executive in development of the Council’s Annual Budget
  • Review and scrutinise budgetary management
  • External Resources
  • Regeneration
  • Transport network and infrastructure
  • Enterprise, business support and development
  • Town Centres and offices
  • Tourism and creative industries
  • Workforce and Skills development and removing barriers to work
  • 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

Functions:

  • To promote well being and reduce health inequality, particularly in supporting those people who feel more vulnerable or are at risk.
  • 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.
  • To take a holistic view of health in order to promote the social, environmental and economic well being of local people
  • 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
  • To make reports and recommendations on matters relating to health services in Northumberland to local NHS bodies and the County Council
  • Adult Care Services
  • Mental Health and emotional well being
  • Financial inclusion and fuel poverty
  • Welfare of vulnerable people
  • Carers well being
  • Independent living and supported housing
  • Adult Health Services
  • Healthy eating and physical activity
  • Smoking cessation
  • Alcohol and drugs misuse

The timetable of the committees meetings can be found here.

In addition to the formal scrutiny committees, the Overview and Scrutiny Chairmen's Working Group oversees the work of the committees.

The purpose of the Working Group is to:

  • To co-ordinate the Overview and Scrutiny function of the Council;
  • To consider referral of any Policy Board Report identified in the Forward Plan;
  • To determine which matters fall within the remit of each Overview and Scrutiny Committee;
  • To scrutinise exceptional issues falling outside the remit of the 4 Scrutiny Committees;
  • To supervise Call-in;
  • To consider “Councillor Calls for Action” not resolved at area level;
  • To consider and refer issues raised by Area Committees as appropriate;
  • To provide liaison with the executive in the interests of achieving common aims and continuous improvement for the Council.

The Working Group is chaired by Councillor Scott Dickinson, Business Chair of the County Council and comprises the chairs and vice-chairs of the four Overview and Scrutiny Committees. The full membership can be seen by clicking here.

The North East Regional Joint Health Scrutiny Committee represents all 12 North East Councils, these include:

  • Darlington Borough Council
  • Durham County Council
  • Gateshead Council
  • Hartlepool Borough Council
  • Middlesbrough Council
  • Newcastle City Council
  • North Tyneside Council
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council
  • South Tyneside Council
  • Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
  • Sunderland City Council

The Committee has recently concluded an innovative investigation into the health needs of the ex-service community. The final report of the review contains 47 recommendations. (Please click here to view the Regional Review of the Health Needs of the Ex-Service Community.) These are based on the outcomes of the work of the three workstreams set up to consider the following issues:

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.