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Our scrutiny committees and panels, co-ordinated by the Scrutiny Management Board, support the work of the Cabinet and the council as a whole.

The role of scrutiny is to:

  • improve decision-making by others through reviewing the decisions they make
  • suggest improvements that could be made to the services we provide.

Scrutiny also provides an opportunity for the views of the public, businesses, community groups and others to be considered in reviewing our activities.

Scrutiny bodies, therefore, act in a similar way to select committees in Parliament.

Reviewing Cabinet decisions

One of the key jobs that scrutiny does is to hold decision-makers (especially the Cabinet) accountable for their actions and decisions. Scrutiny bodies have the power to require Cabinet members to attend their meetings and to explain the decisions they have taken, current policies and performance. 

Having heard from decision-makers and gathered other evidence, for example from good practice elsewhere, scrutiny bodies are able to make recommendations on how things could be improved.

Councillors are also able to ask the Scrutiny Management Board to review Cabinet decisions before they are implemented in case there are concerns that a better decision could be made. This is known as a call-in.

Scrutiny panels

In addition to reviewing decisions and performance, scrutiny can look at particular topics in more detail. The use of scrutiny panels set up for a specific purpose can be a powerful tool for gathering evidence on that topic and developing detailed and well-argued recommendations.

By focusing on a particular topic, scrutiny panels are able to gather evidence from a number of sources, including customers and other people directly affected by it and experts. This provides the opportunity for the public to influence the policy-making process. 

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