Councillor Lacey was pleased to present the 2019/20 Scrutiny Annual Report to Council.
Scrutiny is a function of Councils in England and Wales and was introduced by the Local Government Act 2000, creating separate Cabinet and Scrutiny functions in Local Authorities. The role of scrutiny was strengthened with the passing of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011. This Act requires the Committee to report annually to the Council on the work that it has carried out in the past 12 months and its future work programme. Since the introduction of the Wellbeing of Future Generation Act, Scrutiny also has a statutory role to scrutinise the work of the Public Service Boards.
The underlying principle of Scrutiny arrangements is to ensure that the decision-making process is open, accountable and transparent.
The scrutiny function at Newport City Council is performed by four scrutiny committees. These committees are made up of Elected Members who are not part of the Council’s Cabinet, along with co-opted representatives. These are Performance Scrutiny Committee for Place and Corporate, Performance Scrutiny Committee for People, Performance Scrutiny Committee for Partnerships and Overview and Management Scrutiny.
The purpose of this report is to apprise Council and other interested parties of the role of the scrutiny committees, and their work during the 2019/20 municipal year.
The annual report covers the period from May 2019 to April 2020. The Report highlights the important work carried out by Scrutiny during this period, despite the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 lock-down restrictions. The reporting period was challenging, with fewer meetings held in the first six months than usual, due to resource being focussed on the Council’s response to Covid-19.
Despite this unprecedented event, the Performance Scrutiny Committees for Place and Corporate, and People have scrutinised performance including how the Council have adapted and responded to the challenges faced by services and communities due to the pandemic.
Both Committees have also received reports on the Cabinet’s responses to the Recommendations the Committees previously made to the Draft Budget proposals, as part of Scrutiny’s remit of measuring and assessing the Authorities impact and value.
Other reports considered include reports on Active Travel, the Youth Justice Service and Enforcement of COVID Business Restrictions.
The Performance Scrutiny Committee for Partnerships considered the Wellbeing Plan Annual Report presented by the Public Services Board and submitted their comments to be shared with the PSB.
Similarly, the Committee also scrutinised the performance against the Wellbeing Plan 2020-21 and submitted their comments to the Public Services Board for consideration. Health Board and Education Service partners presented a proposal for the transformation of Mental Health Services, and their Business Plan 2021-22 respectively, to the Committee for consideration and comment.
Actions planned for the reporting period were impacted by the pandemic, however Councillor Lacey was pleased to report that training for scrutiny members on the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act was carried out to understanding and consideration of the Act when undertaking scrutiny activity.
Councillor Lacey looked forward to Chairing the Overview and Scrutiny committee for the remainder of the Municipal year, working alongside committee members in ensuring that they provide an objective and productive challenge to the decisions of the local authority. She took the opportunity to thank her scrutiny colleagues and Cabinet Members, Officers of the Local Authority and partners for their continued support.
The Leader seconded the report.
Council agreed the content of the annual report as a basis for the work of the Scrutiny Committees in the coming year.