Overview and Scrutiny is an important council function which primarily acts as a check and balance to the work of the Cabinet (Executive). It was introduced by the Local Government Act 2000, which gave Councils the opportunity to introduce a Cabinet structure to take decisions.

About Overview and Scrutiny

Scrutiny is an essential element of ensuring that the Council's decision making is transparent, accountable and open, bringing a different perspective to the table and giving the opportunity for a broader range of members to make a contribution to the work of the Council. It provides a 'check and balance' to the work of the Cabinet. Scrutiny is led by councillors who do not hold a Cabinet position. It is one of the ways that enables a broader range of Councillors to contribute to the strategic work of the Council in a constructive way.

The main elements of the Scrutiny role

  • To hold the Cabinet to account for its policies and the decisions it is making
  • To monitor and where appropriate challenge, the performance and quality of services delivered by the council and other public sector organisations
  • To carry out constructive reviews of issues, policies or services in areas where there are concerns or potential for improvement
  • To contribute to the development or review of policy for recommendation to the Cabinet
  • To monitor the quality of services delivered by the Council and other local public sector organisations
  • Act as a 'critical friend' whilst also aiming to maintain a positive and constructive working relationship with the decision makers

The power of influence

Scrutiny does not make decisions, that is the role of the Cabinet, which are held to account for the decisions it takes, but by making evidence-based recommendations, scrutiny provides a powerful influence to decision and policy making.

In Kirklees, Scrutiny tries to look at issues at the earliest opportunity so it can influence decisions and changes before they are made. It does this by looking at the information and making recommendations to either the Council's Cabinet, other public organisations that deliver services within Kirklees, or senior officers, this is called pre-decision scrutiny. The recommendations made by Scrutiny should be based on evidence presented to the panels. There is a requirement for the Cabinet and other bodies to provide a written response to any recommendations that Scrutiny makes.

Notice of concern

Scrutiny has the powers to raise a 'notice of concern' before a Cabinet meeting takes place. A Notice of Concern is a formal Scrutiny process that enables the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee or a Scrutiny Panel Chair to raise concerns on a particular Cabinet agenda item. Once the agenda and papers for a Cabinet meeting have been published and where there is concern about an imminent decision that is due to be taken by Cabinet, the members of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee are able to follow formal procedure. For further information including the Notice of Concern pro-forma, please see Notice of Concern Guidance.

Councillor call for action

Councillors can submit a call for action request to the Chair of Scrutiny for consideration. The Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee can appoint time limited Councillor Call for Action Scrutiny Panels to consider issues arising from a Councillor Call for Action request, where the Committee considers it appropriate. Councillor Call for Action Scrutiny Panels shall include a non-executive Councillor from the affected locality and a scrutiny voluntary co-optee (or statutory education co-optees if the issue includes education matters). Councillor Call for Action Panels can conduct investigations, they or the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee may also ask people to attend to give evidence at panel meetings which are to be conducted in accordance with the following principles:

  1. that the investigation be conducted fairly and all members of the panel be given the opportunity to ask questions of attendees, and to contribute and speak;
  2. that those assisting the panel by giving evidence be treated with respect and courtesy;
  3. that the investigation be conducted so as to maximise the efficiency of the investigation or analysis.

Call in

In certain circumstances, scrutiny has the power to 'call-in' a key decision from Cabinet within 5 working days of the decision being taken. A call-in takes place after the decision has been taken. All non-executive councillors have the ability to initiate the Call in process in regard to any decision made by Cabinet. If a decision is called-in, it cannot be implemented until the matter has been considered by the relevant Scrutiny Panel/Committee and they agree to take no action in relation to the decision or recommend changes to the decision. For further information including the Call-in Notice pro-forma, please see Call-in Guidance

Health Scrutiny powers

In addition to looking at the work of Council Services and the decisions that the Council's Cabinet are going to make, the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel has a key role in representing and strengthening the voice of local people to ensure that their needs and experiences are considered as an integral part of the commissioning and delivery of local health services and that those services are effective and safe.

Approach to Overview and Scrutiny in Kirklees

The principles of the approach to Overview and Scrutiny in Kirklees

  • To leave the party politics at the door - Scrutiny has an important role in the political process but seeks to work in a non party political way
  • To be proactive and constructive in providing a "critical friend" challenge
  • To maximise the use of pre decision scrutiny to influence important decisions before they are taken rather than criticising after the decision has been made
  • To be objective in considering a range of evidence and views to inform scrutiny work
  • To try wherever possible, to hold Scrutiny meetings in public. There will be times when Scrutiny is looking at proposals that are still at an early developmental stage when it may not be possible to hold discussions in public
  • To ensure that the voice of the citizen is heard

Structure of Overview and Scrutiny in Kirklees

The current Scrutiny structure is explained below and is made up of the following parts:

Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee

  • The members are the Chair of Scrutiny and the Lead Members of the four Scrutiny Panels
  • The Chair of Scrutiny is appointed from outside the controlling political group and takes an overall lead on scrutiny matters.
  • The membership of each scrutiny panel includes councillors from across the political groups and a number of voluntary and statutory co-optees.
  • Has responsibility for the overall Scrutiny Work Programme and monitors progress
  • Looks at issues that cut across Scrutiny Panels, such as inclusion and diversity, and the approach to performance management
  • Undertakes some statutory responsibilities such as scrutiny of crime and disorder.
  • Has responsibility for the Corporate Portfolio including financial management and risk.
Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee
Panel Lead member Work programme
Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee Cllr Elizabeth Smaje Programme of work

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Standing Scrutiny Panels

Four standing Scrutiny Panels meet throughout the year approximately every 7 weeks. Each of the four panels has its own programme of work and, in addition to being involved in panel work, councillors and co-optees may have the opportunity to get involved in ad-hoc panels, which are established to provide an in-depth focus on specific issues.

Scrutiny Panels and programmes of work
Panel Lead member Work programme
Children's Scrutiny Panel Councillor Andrew Cooper Programme of work - Children's Scrutiny Panel
Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel Councillor Shabir Pandor Programme of work - Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel
Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Panel Councillor Jo Lawson Programme of work - Environment and Climate Change
Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel Councillor Bill Armer Programme of work - Adult Social Care

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Ad-hoc Scrutiny Panels

An Ad-hoc Scrutiny Panel is a time limited panel that focuses on a specific piece of in depth scrutiny work. At the end of information gathering work, it will analyse its findings and produce a final report with a series of recommendations.

Joint Health Scrutiny Committees

NHS bodies and health service providers have a duty to consult with local authority health scrutiny panels on proposals that are considered to be a substantial development or variation in the provision of health services. When proposals affect more than one local authority area scrutiny is required to form a joint committee with those other local authorities to look in more detail and formally respond to the proposals.

Current Joint Health Scrutiny Committees are:

Joint Health Scrutiny Panels
Panel Terms of reference
Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee Calderdale and Kirklees Terms of Reference
West Yorkshire Joint Health Scrutiny Committee West Yorkshire Terms of Reference

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Attendance at Scrutiny

Once an issue has been agreed for consideration by scrutiny, terms of reference shall be agreed which identify the aims and objectives of the review, the lines of enquiry to be pursued, how the review will be carried out, and who shall be invited to participate in the consideration of the issue. Council Officers, external experts and other persons identified as possible contributors shall be invited to attend meetings to give evidence and advice, but the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee/panels cannot require them to do so and therefore their participation will be on a voluntary basis.

Councillor Call for Action Scrutiny Panels, established as a result of a councillor call for action. Terms of reference and all connected matters will be agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.

How Scrutiny decides which issues to look at

Decision making

The number of potential issues that are of interest to Scrutiny Panels is significant and there is a need to prioritise where Scrutiny focuses its efforts.

All Scrutiny Panels hold an informal workshop at the beginning of each new municipal year to set their work programme for the year ahead and will consider the following in deciding what areas they should focus on - Council's Priorities for the year ahead; pre-decision items, issues of significant local concern to the public, performance, where scrutiny can be involved and add clear value and any areas of high risk.

It is also important that Scrutiny does not duplicate work being carried out elsewhere in the Council.

Annual Reports

Get involved

There are several ways you can find out more about Scrutiny or get involved:

Watch a webcast

Many of the Scrutiny meetings are available to watch live via the Council website:

Attend a meeting

Submit evidence

Scrutiny is keen to hear from members of the public who have experience of the issue that Scrutiny is looking at. You can contact the Governance Team to give views over the phone, ask to come to talk to the Panel, or submit your information in writing by sending an email.

Apply to be a co-optee

Scrutiny has voluntary co-optees as members of the standing panels. These are lay members of the public with an interest in the issues that affect their local communities.

Periodic recruitment exercises to appoint new co-optees takes place approximately every 3-4 years. If you are interested in any future positions which become avilable, please contact the Governance Team with your details.

Make a request for Scrutiny to look at an issue

Scrutiny is open to suggestions of issues where you feel something which affects a number of Kirklees residents might be improved. We can't look at planning or licensing issues or complaints, but we welcome any suggestions.

If you would like to raise an issue that you think should be looked at by scrutiny, please contact the Governance Team

Contact us

  • Kirklees Council
  • Address Kirklees Council, Scrutiny Request, Governance Team, PO Box 1720, Huddersfield, HD1 9EL
  • Phone 01484 221000
  • Email
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