Making important decisions, which can often be very complex, contentious or challenging, is something councillors are elected to do on behalf of their communities.
To ensure every council decision is made in the best interests of residents, each local authority has a function which looks to scrutinise decisions made by council committees.
On 27 July 2020, Cllr Rosita Page (pictured
), the chairman of Harborough District Council's Scrutiny Commission, delivered her annual report to Council describing a "rewarding year" for Scrutiny and its work on behalf of the community.
The Scrutiny Commission is made up of 10 councillors, appointed annually, and meets up to four times a year to suggest and approve topics for discussion.
Issues under the Scrutiny spotlight this year have included air quality management, promoting the vibrancy of towns, section 106 obligations (developer contributions to local facilities), neighbourhood plans progress, Leicestershire Strategic Growth Plan, powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance, bringing empty properties back into use, Christmas lights and electric vehicle charging points.
Cllr Rosita Page, who represents the Ullesthorpe ward in the Harborough district, said: "I am proud to lead Scrutiny; the critical friend of the internal decision-making body and of our external stakeholders. Despite being limited by the pandemic this year, we have considered 33 reports across the board and we had 24 hours of public debate ensuring some positive outcomes. I am looking forward to another year with no doubt many challenges."
The Scrutiny Commission appoints two Scrutiny Panels for 'Communities' and 'Performance'.
These panels are made up of seven councillors who are not on the Council's Cabinet and, whilst they are not 'decision making' bodies, they monitor decisions made by the Cabinet and Council and provide a critical overview.
Involvement by residents and outside representatives is actively encouraged by the panels which help them make recommendations to feedback to Cabinet or Council. Panels may also set up time-limited working groups to look at particular subjects in more detail, often with the support of the public.
Scrutiny allows residents to have a greater say in Council matters by holding public inquiries into matters of local concern for example on the Strategic Growth Plan which involved feedback from the public and CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England), as well as local pressure groups.
Only one meeting had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic as remote meetings were arranged with an ambitious plan to reclaim time lost due to the pandemic.Find out more about committees on the Council's website