Overview and Scrutiny
Overview & Scrutiny is about providing ideas, challenge and debate that contributes to making Waltham Forest a better place to live and work.
The Local Government Act 2000 established Overview and Scrutiny as a function to enable non-executive councillors to hold local authority executives to account for their performance and the performance of the authority.
Scrutiny Committees and Sub-Committees oversee executive decisions to ensure that they are practical, fair and being made in the best interest of the community.
Public scrutiny provides a unique perspective on how well public services are being delivered and how they could be improved.
Scrutiny in Waltham Forest is undertaken by elected non-executive members of the Council (councillors) who are supported by an independent Scrutiny Unit. It represents one of the most important ways in which non-executive councillors can influence Council policy and champion their constituents.
The Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) outlines these four principles of effective scrutiny:
- Provides “critical friend” challenge to executive policy makers and decision makers and reviews and contributes to decisions made by Executive
- Enables the voice and concerns of the public through elected non-executive members
- Is carried out by councillors who look to lead and own the scrutiny role
- Contributes to and drives improvement in local services
The work of the Council and, in particular, the Cabinet, is subject to scrutiny by those Councillors not in the Cabinet (non-executive Members). In Waltham Forest, this is carried out by a Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee and six Scrutiny Sub-Committees. The Management Committee may also set up time limited Panels.
Scrutiny Management Committee
The Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee is responsible for scrutinising strategic and cross-cutting issues and managing and co-ordinating the overview and scrutiny function to ensure that it achieves its objectives.
There are currently 10 non-executive councillors (councillors who are not in the Cabinet) on the Scrutiny Management Committee.
The Scrutiny Management Committee is responsible for:
- Calling in Executive decisions made but not yet implemented to see if they are appropriate
- Help develop new policies and suggest improvements to current policies
- Scrutiny Sub-Committees
- Establishing time-limited panels to look at particular topics
In setting the programme, the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee will generally have regard to:
- Referrals from council, the Cabinet or another committee
- Suggestions received from the public
- Items proposed by members of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee or of one of the sub-committees
The Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee oversees and is supported by six dedicated thematic sub-committees.
To review reports and papers see the Reports section below and simply click on the link.
Currently, five non-executive councillors have been appointed to each of the six Scrutiny sub-committees.
Scrutiny Committees may co-opt people with particular expertise or local knowledge as non-voting members or advisers.
The six Scrutiny Sub-Committees are:
- Children and Young People Sub-Committee
- Community Safety Sub-Committee
- Environment Sub-Committee
- Finance Sub-Committee
- Health, Adult and Older People Sub-Committee
- Housing Sub-Committee
You may click on each of the links above to find out more detail about each of these sub-committees. Information is available around the membership, contact details and you can also click through to reports and meeting papers for that particular sub-committee from there.
Scrutiny panels are generally more informal meetings that look to examine particular issues in detail, drawing information from a range of sources and witnesses to inform their final report.
- Gather evidence from a wide range of sources including Council Officers, other local authorities, national agencies, service users, expert witnesses and their own research
- Consider the evidence presented to them and report back to the Management Committee or the appropriate Scrutiny Sub-Committee complete with recommendations
- Publish their findings and refer their recommendations to the Executive or other agencies affected by them for consideration and implementation
- Include co-opted members
- Vary in duration according to the level of complexity and detail required. The average is generally around three to six months.
If you wish to access recent panel reports then go to the Completed Panel Reports section below and simply follow the link to the report you would like to review.
Witnesses are people or representatives from organisations whose expertise, experience or opinion is relevant to a particular issue being scrutinised and whose involvement is necessary to usefully examine the issue.
To find out more about being a witness at Scrutiny you may wish to download the document at the link below:
Alternatively, there is also more detail in the FAQ page - see FAQ section below.
Public Participation & Involvement
All Scrutiny Management Committee, Sub-Committee meetings are open to the Public. Members of the public may speak for up to three minutes on an agenda item. Members of the public may also suggest matters for scrutiny and give oral or written evidence to the Scrutiny Management Committee or Sub-Committees.
From this process reports and recommendations may be made to a Cabinet Member (Portfolio Holder), the Cabinet or to the full Council. The recommendations are not binding, but must be formally considered by the Cabinet Member, Cabinet or Council and the decision recorded.
Members of the public are advised to check the agenda online before attending a meeting to ensure their item of interest is being considered.
Scrutiny reports are available to the public.
Click on the links below to find the relevant reports and papers you want.
Cabinet decisions on Overview & Scrutiny recommendations are reported in the Cabinet minutes:
Completed Panel reports
|Report||Link to document||Date report published|
|Compulsory Recycling||PDF / PDF||Apr 2007|
|Arcade Development||Nov 2007|
|Council Budget Setting||Oct 2007|
|Youth Council||Dec 2009|
|Placements Budget||Dec 2010|
|Human Trafficking||May 2011|
|Adult Safeguarding||May 2011|
|2012 Legacy Scrutiny||Jul 2011|
|Dementia Services||Jul 2011|
|Library Panel||Sep 2011|
|Decentralised Energy||Nov 2011|
Where we are
Scrutiny is based at the Waltham Forest Town Hall and meetings are usually held there (though not always – check the details for your particular meeting before attending).
Click below to find us on an interactive map:
Any further questions?
For some more detailed information and to find fast answers to the most common questions or queries about Overview & Scrutiny you may wish to take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions section directly below.
However, if your matter is urgent and you cannot find the answer here then you may wish to contact the Scrutiny Unit via our main contact at the top of this page.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- What is Scrutiny?
- What are the main functions of scrutiny?
- Why do Scrutiny anyway?
- How does Scrutiny work?
- What happens to Scrutiny recommendations?
- When will Scrutiny get involved?
- What is a Scrutiny witness?
- Where can I find historical scrutiny meeting papers?
- How can I find out what was discussed at a particular scrutiny meeting?
- Where can I find dates of future meetings?
- Where can I get papers for a particular meeting is I wish to attend?
- How can I find out what Scrutiny is going to look at in the future?
- I am interested in a particular topic – what is the best way to find out if it has been discussed at scrutiny?
- I want to find a committee but it seems to have ceased to meet – can I access the papers for that committee?
- What is the municipal year?