How to take part during the Public Forum at Scrutiny Committee meetings or propose items for the agenda

We know how important it is that a council can be held to account and stand up to close scrutiny by you, the people we represent. That is why West Devon Borough Council has two Overview & Scrutiny Committees to ensure that a robust process is firmly in place and procedures are being properly monitored on your behalf.

West Devon Borough Council aims to have a scrutiny function that adheres to the Centre for Public Scrutiny's four principles of good scrutiny:

  • Provides critical challenge to executive policy makers and decision makers
  • Enables the voice and concerns of the public to be heard
  • Is carried out by 'independent minded governors' who lead and own the scrutiny role
  • Drives improvement in public services

There are two Scrutiny Committees of 11 Members each (an Internal and External Committee) which support the work of the Hub Committee and the Council as a whole:

Reports and recommendations are put by these Committees to the Hub Committee and the Council to advise on policy, budget and service delivery.

The Scrutiny Committees also monitor the decisions of the Hub Committee and have the ability to 'call-in' decisions made by the Hub Committee which are still to be implemented. This enables the Scrutiny Committees to consider whether the decision made was appropriate and if it should recommend that the Hub Committee or full Council reconsider the decision. Scrutiny may also be consulted by the Hub Committee or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.

The Membership on the Committees will be determined at the Annual Meeting of the Council each May, but each non-Hub Committee Member is expected to sit on either of these Council bodies

Public Forum

Members of the public may raise issues and ask questions at meetings of the two Scrutiny Committees. This session will last for up to 15 minutes at the beginning of each meeting.

An issue or question may only be raised by a member of the public provided that they have given written notice (which may be by email) to the Senior Specialist Democratic Services by 5.00 pm on the Monday prior to the relevant meeting.

An issue may be rejected by the Monitoring Officer if:

  • It relates to a matter within the functions of the Planning & Licensing Committee;
  • It is not about a matter for which the local authority has a responsibility or which affects the district;
  • It is offensive, frivolous or defamatory;
  • It is substantially the same as a question which has previously been put in the past six months;
  • It requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.

Agenda Item Requests

Members of the public are able to propose an agenda item which may be considered by an Overview & Scrutiny Committee, by completing the Icon for pdf Scrutiny Proposal Form [9.11KB] and sending it to Darryl White, Senior Specialist Democratic Services by email: darryl.white@swdevon.gov.uk or post: West Devon Borough Council, Kilworthy Park, Drake Road, Tavistock PL19 0BZ.

Submitted forms will be considered by a Panel comprising of the Head of Paid Service and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of an Overview & Scrutiny Committee within 7 working days of receipt, to determine whether or not topic will be scheduled on to a future committee agenda.

Policy Development and Review

In this role, Scrutiny Committees can review the Council's policies to assess whether the intended policy outcomes have been achieved and can also assist the Council during the early development of new policies and the formulation of key plans. Very often policy review can lead to recommendations to develop new policy. This work can be carried out by a Scrutiny Committee or a Committee may assign this task to a smaller number of Members in the form of a Task and Finish Group.  Carefully choosing which topics to review can help the Council to focus on the issues that matter to local people most and derive real outcomes for them.