Overview and Scrutiny – too little overview, too little scrutiny, too much pressure to bury the truth

21 Jan

Some interesting publications on Public Scrutiny

Here from Eastbourne is what they think Overview and Scrutiny SHOULD be about:

 The Four Principles of Good Public Scrutiny

The Centre for Public Scrutiny has been created to promote the value of scrutiny in modern and effective government. It has set out the four principles of good public scrutiny to be:

1.  Effective Scrutiny should be a ‘critical friend’ to executives, external authorities and agencies.

It should challenge policy development and decision making in a robust, constructive and purposeful way while developing a partnership with external agencies and authorities.

2.  Effective Scrutiny should reflect the voice and concerns of the public and its communities.

It should ensure an ongoing dialogue with the public and diverse communities where the public voice is heard and responded to. It should have open and transparent processes with public access to information.

3.  Effective Scrutiny should take the lead and own the Scrutiny process on behalf of the public.

It should be independent from the executive, legitimated by the council and should have adequate public representation and political balance that is representative of the current political groups involved.

4.  Effective Scrutiny should make an impact on the delivery of public services.

It should promote community well-being and improve the quality of life, providing co-ordinated and strategic reviews of policy and service performance in line with strategic objectives.

Here is an article where a council scrutiny committee is blasted as a “self-congratulatory tea party”.

Here is a parliamentary Select Committee review of overview and scrutiny which finds the sytem lacking.

and finally here is a paper on “Councillors and the Community”, given in evidence to Parliament, which shows that councillors are put under pressure to toe the party line rather than effectively scrutinise its policies and procedures.

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