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 established by the Local Government Act 2000, when Councils had the opportunity to introduce a Cabinet structure to take decisions.

About Overview and Scrutiny

It is led by councillors who do not serve on the Cabinet. 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 the decisions it is making
  • To monitor and where appropriate challenge, the performance and quality of services delivered by the council and other local agencies
  • 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

The power of influence

Scrutiny does not have powers to make decisions, instead it has the power to make recommendations to the Cabinet and a range of external agencies and partners on issues that affect the citizens of Kirklees.

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. 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.

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, Scrutiny has specific powers in relation to the work of local NHS bodies including "to review and scrutinise matters relating to the planning, provision and operation of the health service in the local authority area".

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 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
  • Sets up the Scrutiny Panels every year and appoints the memberships
  • 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.
Scrutiny Panel
Panel Lead member Work programme
Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee Panel Cllr Elizabeth Smaje Programme of work 2019/20

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Thematic Scrutiny Panels

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.

There is usually only one panel operating at a time, currently it is the Ad-hoc Scrutiny Panel into Elective Home Education.

Ad-hoc Scrutiny Panel
Panel Lead member Terms of Reference
Ad-hoc Scrutiny Panel - Elective Home Education Cllr Andrew Marchington Elective Home Education Terms of Reference

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Joint Health Scrutiny Panels

Scrutiny can also identify proposals that it thinks could lead to a significant reconfiguration in the provision of health services in the local area. These proposals may affect more than one local authority. If this is the case then Scrutiny is required to form a shared 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
Wakefield and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee Wakefield and Kirklees Terms of Reference
West Yorkshire Joint Health Scrutiny Committee West Yorkshire Terms of Reference

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How Scrutiny decides which issues to look at

Decision making

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

At the top of any filter for helping to choose an item, is the ability for Scrutiny to make a difference by looking at the item.

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

  1. Pre decision items that are being developed for decision by Cabinet, so Scrutiny can comment and influence the decision before it is made
  2. A review of performance information to identify areas of good performance and discuss how priority areas of underperformance are being addressed
  3. Priority areas / themes identified by Cabinet Members / Strategic Directors, where Scrutiny may want an initial overview and then scrutinise some areas in greater detail
  4. Monitoring the implementation of previous Scrutiny recommendations
  5. Considering the outcomes of recent inspections, e.g. OFSTED and how the issues raised are being addressed
  6. Areas of high public concern where there is a benefit in Scrutiny considering the issue
  7. Contributing to the review of policy prior to Cabinet decision
  8. Scrutiny of aspects of services delivered by Council partners or external agencies

Annual Reports

Other 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. Please contact the Governance Team to give views or submit your information by email.

Apply to be a co-optee

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

The recruitment period for volunary co-optees has now finished. However should you be interested in any future positions which become avilable, please email or post your contact details to the Governance Team using the addresses found under Contact Us.

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.

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