Overview and Scrutiny Board
The Board is responsible for managing the Overview and Scrutiny function. It makes sure that Scrutiny reviews and investigations are appropriate, that the Commissions work together, and that ideas and expertise are shared. To help this happen, the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of each Scrutiny Commission are appointed onto the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Board details: membership, meetings and contacts
You can view the Board's full work programme for the year on the agenda for each meeting of the Board.
Holding the Mayor and Cabinet to account
The Board has an important role in making sure that decisions are made properly, and challenging the performance of the Council in public.
Each month a different Member of the Cabinet attends a meeting of the Board to answer questions about services in their portfolio. Details of these sessions can be found on the Cabinet Question Time page.
Calling to account
Overview and Scrutiny has other powers that councillors can use to influence decision-making locally.
'Call-In' is a tool to temporarily freeze a decision that has been taken by the Cabinet but not yet implemented, to allow for further consideration. To do this, five Councillors have to sign a request that a decision be called in, if they believe it does not meet the council's 'Principles of decision-making' as set out in Article 13 of the Constitution (page 79). The Overview and Scrutiny Board then holds a special hearing to decide whether the decision should be referred back to Cabinet, discussed further at Full Council, or upheld.
Examples of Call-in
- Housing Management (March 2010): 5 councillors requested that the decision to bring neighbourhood contracts relating to Housing Management Services back in-house was called in. Following discussion with the Councillors, stakeholders and with the relevant Cabinet Member, the Overview and Scrutiny Board decided to take no action (and let the decision be taken)
- Parks Strategy (April 2008): 5 councillors requested that the strategy 'Social Spaces - A Strategy for Parks in Hackney', be called in, as it was perceived that due consultation had not occurred. Following discussion with the Councillors, stakeholders and with the relevant Cabinet Member, the Overview and Scrutiny Board decided to take no action (and let the decision be taken), but made a reference to Cabinet requesting more detailed consultation on the make up and membership of the Green Spaces Forum
Councillor Call for Action (CCfA)
CCfA enables any Member to ask Overview and Scrutiny to investigate an issue affecting their ward, particularly issues that remain unresolved despite all efforts to get them fixed. Overview and Scrutiny can then choose to take-up the issue, investigate it thoroughly, and make recommendations to the relevant decision-makers. The idea of this power is to provide:
- Recognition that an issue is significant enough for time, attention and resource to be allocated in an attempt to resolve it
- A forum for discussion of the issue
- An opportunity to discuss the issue in a neutral forum
- An opportunity to discuss the issue with others with the sole aim of resolving it
The Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) has produced some best practice guidance.
Calling to account
The Council's constitution includes powers in relation to residents running petitions. These include opportunities for groups of local people to trigger debates at Full Council, or to hold an Officer to account'. A petition to hold an officer to account would trigger an open meeting at the Overview and Scrutiny Board or relevant Scrutiny Commission at which a named senior officer would be called to answer questions about the subject of the petition. 500 signatures are needed for an officer to questioned by Councillors as part of Overview and Scrutiny.
Committee members would ask the questions at this meeting, but petitioners could suggest questions to the Chair by contacting them or the Overview and Scrutiny team up to three working days before the meeting.
Find out more about the Council's petition scheme and how Overview and Scrutiny fits in.
Page updated: 24 Jun 2013