The report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Service is attached.
The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services providing a review of the work undertaken by the Council’s four Scrutiny Groups during 2020/21. The Leader invited each of the Scrutiny Group Chairmen to deliver a brief summary of the work of each Group over the year.
Councillor Combellack, Chairman of the Corporate Overview Group, reported that despite being a very difficult year for all, scrutiny had been successful. The transition from the previous scrutiny arrangements had been completed and reviewed, and the new arrangements were working well. The Corporate Overview Group continued to meet throughout Covid to manage the work programmes of all the scrutiny groups as well as scrutinising important topics such as quarterly finance and performance monitoring, health and safety, and customer feedback. Councillor Combellack had continued to meet with other councils via the East Midlands Scrutiny Network and reported that virtual meetings had increased membership and engagement within that group. She concluded by thanking all Scrutiny Group Chairmen and Vice Chairmen for their time and efforts over the last twelve months as well as the officers involved in supporting scrutiny meetings.
Councillor Clarke, Chairman of the Growth and Development Group, thanked his Vice Chairman, Councillor Virdi, and congratulated him on his new role with the Governance Scrutiny Group. He outlined a number of the important items his Group had scrutinised during the year such as the crematorium, a new policy for planning enforcement and the new development at Abbey Road, which he hoped would prove to be an exemplar of energy efficient housing that others could follow. He also commended Councillors on the other side of the chamber for raising the management of open spaces as an item for scrutiny which led to a very interesting and productive discussion.
Councillor Purdue-Horan, Chairman of the Governance Scrutiny Group, stated that the work of the Group was extremely important to the governance of the Council. He commended the tremendous amount of work both officers and external partners had produced this year to bring forward items such as internal audit, the Constitution review, a review of risk management, the Statement of Accounts, treasury and asset investment update, the Capital Investment Strategy, external audit, the Annual Governance Statement, a report on the Redmond Review, and the Council’s Annual Fraud Assessment. The Group had also received an additional item assessing the impact of Covid-19 on the Council’s operational stability – the ‘going concern’ report. Councillor Purdue-Horan thanked supporting officers and members of the Group, especially his Vice Chairman, Councillor J Walker.
Councillor Wheeler, Chairman of the Communities Scrutiny Group, stated that meetings of the Group had been very varied, with challenging issues to consider and he thanked all members of the Group for their excellent work. It was noted that the Group had made a number of recommendations and scrutinised some issues more than once, and all Councillors were welcomed to provide the Group with feedback and comments if they wished to do so. In conclusion, Councillor Wheeler thanked officers for their support throughout the year.
Councillor Robinson thanked all members of Scrutiny for their commitment over the last twelve months and Councillor Edyvean, in seconding the item, reminded Council that members of the Executive would be happy to attend scrutiny meetings when invited.
Councillor Bansal, on behalf of the Labour Group, agreed that many interesting topics had been scrutinised over the last twelve months and also thanked the officers involved in supporting scrutiny. He reminded Council that scrutiny should seek to gain the views of residents, community groups, users and experts and hoped that more use would be made of this aspect of scrutiny in the coming year.
Councillor Major noted the considerable work that had been undertaken by the Scrutiny Groups, which was vital to ensuring the Council’s continued commitment to transparent governance. It was critical that the Scrutiny Groups continued to thoroughly scrutinise the work undertaken by the Council to ensure that residents were well served.
Those comments were echoed by Councillors R Mallender and Thomas.
It was proposed by Councillor Robinson and seconded by Councillor Edyvean and RESOLVED that the work undertaken by the four Scrutiny Groups during 2020/21 be endorsed.