To receive the annual report of the Scrutiny and Overview Committee.
During his introduction to the Annual Report of the Scrutiny and Overview Committee 2017/2018, the Chair, Councillor Fitzsimons highlighted that the report provided a useful opportunity to reflect upon lessons learned over the past year and would help to identify possible improvements going forward. Councillor Fitzsimons also extended his thanks to the Scrutiny staff and the outgoing Chairs of the other Scrutiny Sub-Committees namely Councillors Jan Buttinger and Carole Bonner.
Over the past year there had been over 30 Scrutiny meetings, with over 40 subjects scrutinised, including the call-in of two Cabinet key decisions which had resulted in 60 recommendations being made. The inadequate rating of Children’s Services following an Ofsted inspection in September 2017 had led to a change in the overall approach to Scrutiny, with additional emphasis placed on Members knowing what good looks like in order to be able to judge the performance of a Service. To achieve this Members needed to have a good knowledge of a Service area, which was acknowledged maybe harder to achieve in some areas than others and would require more work from Members outside of meetings to prepare.
Another consideration for Scrutiny going forward included how best to ensure that the voice of service users, local residents and businesses was heard as part of the process. Another challenge was ensuring the parity of esteem between Scrutiny and the Cabinet, which would be essential to promoting the value of Scrutiny.
The Chair of the Children and Young People Sub Committee, Councillor Ward advised that it was still early days for his chairmanship of the Sub-Committee but endorsed the direction of travel for Scrutiny outlined by Councillor Fitzsimons. The Sub-Committee would continue to scrutinise the implementation of the Children’s Improvement Programme, an area of work that will need to be carefully balanced so as not to increase pressure upon the Service.
Priorities for the Sub-Committee would include ensuring that the voice of the child was heard within the service and ensuring that the different agencies were working together to deliver improvements. An early priority for the Sub-Committee was to get up to speed on the subject, which would enable them to ensure they were asking the right questions.
The Chair of the Health and Social Care Sub-Committee Councillor Chowdhury highlighted that the health of the people of Croydon was central to the Labour Party election manifesto and as such the Sub-Committee had a key role to play in holding service providers to account.
It was noted that of the 60 recommendations made by Scrutiny, 49 had been accepted and as such it was questioned which were the most significant. It was acknowledged that each recommendation was made for a reason, but ultimately the ones relating to the Ofsted report were the most pertinent, especially as these garnered extra strength through being agreed on a cross party basis.
In response to a question about the resources available to conduct the Scrutiny role it was advised that as well as two Scrutiny officers, the main resource was the experience of the back bench Councillors, as this was essential to delivering good scrutiny.
Council resolved to note the Annual Report of the Scrutiny and Overview Committee.