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Scrutiny

On this page you can find out how we make sure that the decisions we and other local public bodies take are being taken in your best interests.
Meeting table with fingers pointing at papers

What is Overview and Scrutiny? 

Scrutiny (sometimes called overview and scrutiny) is a process whereby councillors who are not the council’s executive can play an influential role in the shaping of policy and decisions that will have a real benefit on behalf of the community they represent.

The process involves scrutiny committees monitoring performance, reviewing and evaluating services, questioning decision and plans made by the council’s executive, listening to the concerns of local people, and where appropriate making recommendations for action and change.

Four key roles for overview and scrutiny are:
  1. Holding executive, individual cabinet members and chief officers to account and ensuring corporate priorities are met
  2. Policy development and review
  3. External scrutiny, such as health care providers
  4. Performance management and best value
Source: Blackpool Council

Overview and scrutiny committees were established in English and Welsh local authorities by the Local Government Act 2000. They were intended as a counterweight to the new executive structures created by that Act (elected mayors or leaders and cabinets). Their role was to develop and review policy and make recommendations to the council.

Today, the legislative provisions for overview and scrutiny committees for England can be found in the Localism Act 2011. Local authorities also manage processes of ‘external scrutiny’, where their committees look at issues which lie outside the council’s responsibilities, with specific powers to scrutinise health bodies, community safety partnerships, and Police and Crime Commissioners.

The powers and functions of overview and scrutiny committees, include: 
  • Any member of an overview and scrutiny committee has the right to refer a relevant matter to the committee In England, this provision does not apply to matters concerned with planning and licensing, or to “any matter which is vexatious, discriminatory or not reasonable to be included in the agenda”; Overview and scrutiny committees may hold inquiries and produce reports. Meetings are subject to the normal rules for public admission;
  • Overview and scrutiny committees have the power to ‘call in’ decisions made by their executives. They may then review a decision and recommend that the council reconsiders it. This power is normally defined to ‘key decisions’, which are defined in law. The Government guidance implies that call-in would be expected to be used as a last resort when other methods of engagement have failed. Councils will normally specify a window of time after a decision during which this power can be exercised, and a minimum number of councillors to exercise it (for example, five councillors from at least two political parties); Committees may require executive members and officers of the authority to appear before them. Individuals from outside the council can be invited, but not compelled, to attend;
  • Overview and scrutiny reports must receive a response from the council executive within two months;
  • Overview and scrutiny committees cannot oblige either the executive, the council or external bodies to act upon their findings;
  • Each authority must appoint at least one ‘scrutiny officer’.
Source Overview and Scrutiny in Local Government, House of Commons Briefing Paper, 27th June 2019
 
 

Who serves on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Commissions?

All councillors except the Mayor and councillors who are part of Cabinet may be members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and its commissions.
 
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee can also appoint co-opted members to the committee and/or the scrutiny commissions. Co-opted members are not allowed to vote with the exception of parent or diocesan representatives who can vote only on education matters.
 

Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Commissions in Newham

Scrutiny arrangements differ from council to council. We have an overarching Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Cllr Anthony McAlmont.
Cllr Anthony McAlmont - Bio coming
The committee receives reports by the executive on progress against priorities, organisational restructures, budget and performance monitoring, and leads on commissions which are cross-cutting across multi-service areas (such as homelessness), along with updates and engagement from various statutory partners as required.

The Members of Overview and Scrutiny Committee for the municipal year 2019/20 are:
  • Councillor Anthony McAlmont (Chair)
  • Councillor Daniel Lee-Phakoe
  • Councillor Ayesha Chowdhury
  • Councillor John Whitworth
  • Councillor Dr Rohit Kumar Dasgupta
  • Councillor Mariam Dawood
  • Councillor Canon Ann Easter
  • Councillor Anamul Islam
  • Councillor Ken Clark
  • Councillor Nilufa Jahan
  • Councillor Gen Kitchen
  • Ms Ellen Kemp
In addition to the O&S Committee, there are four standing commissions reporting into the O&S Committee, with each commission meeting separately to progress its own work programme.
 
Each Commission scrutinises subjects at quarterly meetings and produce ‘Task and Finish’ commissions - which are in-depth research reports on a given scrutiny topic chosen by Members. Recommendations from the work of scrutiny are presented at Cabinet Council, or to the relevant Individual portfolio lead in the Executive - for their respective consideration and decision.
 

Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, Chaired by Cllr Daniel Lee-Phakoe

Cllr Daniel Lee-Phakoe - Bio to come
Topics to be reviewed to June 2020:
  • Youth Offending Team - looking at the inspection outcome and potential improvement action plan
  • The Community Safety Partnership - a statutory requirement for scrutiny.
  • Joint Tasking process for policing in crime hotspots - looking at how hotspots are identified/ the partnership approach/ how effective the programme is/ how it could be improved
  • Reporting Crime and ASB - Reviewing disabled and elderly people’s accessibility issues
  • Review of the commissioned domestic violence service - review the effectiveness of the commissioned domestic violence service.
  • Female participation in gangs - to cover victim support, types of crimes being committed and exploitation
  • In-Depth Topic: Modern Slavery. To investigate how modern slavery affects the local area and economy, with targeted work on how to ensure all local businesses sign up to the Modern Slavery Pledge.

Health and Adult Social Care, Chaired by Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury


Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury Bio

Cllr. Ayesha Chowdhury arrived in Britain with her parents at the age of 16. Besides learning English, she helped her father with his community work. From Goldsmiths College, University of London, Mrs. Chowdhury has completed her MA in Applied Anthropology, Youth and Community work in 2002. In addition to that, she has obtained a wide range of qualifications that covered Social work, Construction and Law.

Mrs Chowdhury felt that the decision making process had to be influenced if real change was to be attempted. As a result of this she got involved with politics.  Cllr. Chowdhury has fought five local elections successfully and has been continuously representing London Borough of Newham as an elected Councillor since 2002.

Outside her role as a councillor in Newham, Ayesha Chowdhury is a successful businesswoman. She has previously worked for different local authorities, i.e. Camden, Westminster, Tower Hamlets and Newham. Aside from politics and business, she is also committed to various local, national and transnational organisations. She has been heavily involved in consultation, research and community activities in the UK as well as abroad.

Amongst her most prestigious voluntary association, her past and present commitments in Council include being the – Executive Adviser for the Mayor of Newham; Lead Councillor for Beckton Community Forum. Also she has served a number of Scrutiny Commissions including Community Cohesion and Children & Young Peoples Scrutiny committee.

A number of positive developments that she has participated in over the past years in service delivery are: Tackling ASB successfully; affective service from the Housing and Environment Department; Improvement in educational standard. Besides her regular surgeries, she holds special surgeries for different ethnic groups, the elderly, women and young people who do not normally visits surgeries.

Her interests include Human Rights, politics, environmental and social issues as well as sports. As a scrutiny chair for Health and Adult Social Care, she is keen to focus on equality and quality of life for the most disadvantaged in the society.


Topics to be reviewed to June 2020:

  • Caring for Children with Complex Needs - To review current services in place to support children and their families in the community and increase their attendance at school.
  • Primary Care Networks - To review and influence the work of the NHS and providers with regards to primary care provision and review social Prescribing. Supported Living - This area is not reviewed by the CQC and it is proposed that Newham will introduce its own framework.
  • Public Health Budget - To give consider and give transparency to how funds are being utilised.
  • End of life care - To consider and better understand the current provision of end of life care services and identify any areas where recommendations for improvements could be made.
  • Young People's Health - To consider young people’s health issues, with a particular focus on vaccinations
  • Bart’s Health NHS Trust - To maintain regular monitoring of improvements from the CQC inspection, as well as considering issues including charging for overseas patients and older people’s service improvement.
  • In-Depth Topic: Mental Health. To consider mental health services in Newham, awareness, support, transition and integration.

Education, Children and Young People, Chaired by Cllr McAlmont, also Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Cllr McAlmont - Bio coming soon
Topics to be reviewed to June 2020:
  • OFSTED Improvement - Ongoing updates to be given to the Commission over 2019-20.
  • Corporate Parenting/Leaving Care - To review service improvements since the inspection and ahead of the Ofsted monitoring visit
  • SEND (Special Education Needs and Disabled) To review best practice within this service and understand how practice can influence other service areas, ahead of the joint inspection by Ofsted and CQC. To support in preparing a self-evaluation form.
  • Children's Health Services 0-19 - To review best practice within this service and understand how practice can influence other service areas.
  • Finance - To investigate the main reasons for overspending in Children’s Services, as well as the approach to budget setting, in light of consistent overspending over the years.
  • Pupil Referral Unit review/Exclusions - To consider performance, outcomes and issues for young people at the Pupil Referral Unit.
  • Early Years Provision – Maintained Nurseries - To review the organisational structure of provisions.
  • In-Depth Topic –The Commission will cover one of the following areas, and priotise prioritised Corporate Parenting, and also prioritised SEND and Children’s Health 0-19.
 

Regeneration, Housing and Environment, Chaired by Cllr John Whitworth

As an active person in local politics, I wanted to become a councillor to get more involved in local governance and thereby contribute to improving the lives of residents. I had been a teacher in local schools, colleges and universities, and felt I had a sufficient understanding of the borough to make a useful contribution. 
I am interested in Scrutiny because of its role in holding the Council’s Executive to account for its actions - by examining the delivery of its policies - and in proposing improvements. At this exciting time in Newham politics, I trust Scrutiny can make a full contribution to the reshaping of local governance in the interests of its residents. 

Topics to be reviewed to June 2020:
  • Temporary and Emergency Accommodation - Data, residents placed out of borough, length of time in temporary or emergency accommodation, type of accommodation and cost.
  • Private Rental Sector Housing - To review the effectiveness of the private sector landlord register.
  • Housing list and Housing Allocation Policy - To scrutinise proposals for a revised policy relating to housing allocations.
  • Street Cleansing - To consider the review of service proposals to consolidate the three companies as was previously agreed by the Commission, once it is complete and before a Cabinet decision is taken.
  • Air Quality Action Plan - To review and comment on the final draft of the Air Quality Action Plan, following up from the previous 20 recommendations with updates.
  • Displaced/ Decanted residents during regeneration - To review what happens to residents who have to move out of their homes due to regeneration and how the Council supports them through this process. Areas of focus will include quality of temporary or alternative accommodation and how they are supported moving out and moving back
  • Contact Centre - To review elderly or disabled people’s accessibility in contacting the council.
  • In-Depth Review - Temporary and Emergency Accommodation. To consider residents placed out of borough, length of time in temporary or emergency accommodation, type of accommodation, costs, the priority list and how residents vulnerabilities are taken into account, and how data is utilised to improve service provision e.g. equality data.
 
 

Report and Briefs

 
Scrutiny Task and Finish Commissions have recently covered the following, with links to the reports:
  • Community Safety Partnership - Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour Scrutiny Commission
  • Street Violence - Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour Scrutiny Commission Maternity Services - Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Commission Newham University Hospital Improvement - Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Commission
  • Newham Legacy Investments (London Stadium)
  • Air Quality - Regeneration, Housing and Environment Scrutiny Commission
 

Overview and Scrutiny Annual Reports

 
Each year, Scrutiny produces an annual report outlining their activities and findings to the Annual Council Meeting in May, following the links to the reports:
  • Scrutiny Annual Report 2018/19
  • Scrutiny Annual Report 2017/18
  • Scrutiny Annual Report 2016/17
 

Budget Working Group Party

 
Each year scrutiny has a key role in reviewing the Mayor’s draft budget proposals for the each ahead, and making any recommendations for consideration for Cabinet and then the Full Council where the annual budget is approved (February/early March each year) , Cllr McAlmont is the Chair, with the following Councillors proposed for 2020/21 budget scrutiny:
  • Councillor McAlmont (Chair)
  • Councillor Daniel Lee-Phakoe
  • Councillor Ayesha Chowdhury
  • Councillor John Whitworth
  • Councillor Quintin Peppiatt
  • Councillor Lakmini Shah
  • Councillor Lester Hudson
  • Councillor Nilufa Jahan
  • Councillor Delphine Tohoura
  • Councillor Neil Wilson
  • Councillor Pushpa Makwana
The final report is presented at Cabinet and Council each February, in accordance with the annual council tax and budget setting cycle.
 
 

INEL, Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee

 
Newham is the Chair of the INEL JHOSC, chaired by Cllr Winston Vaughn
 
The Inner North East London Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (INEL JHOSC) comprises of London Boroughs: Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and City of London Corporation. The Committee’s remit is to consider London wide and local NHS service developments and changes that impact all the authorities mentioned above.
 
The Committee will meet as required and is established in accordance with section 245 of the NHS Act 2006 and Local Authority (Overview and Scrutiny Committees Health Scrutiny Functions) Regulations 2002.
 
 
 

Coming Soon - Newham Scruinty on Twitter

 
@NewhamScruinty tweet information on new commissions and invite organisations and individual to register if they are interested in particular commissions and possibly acting as witness to the Scrutiny Committee and Commissioners, to give their evidence and information on their experiences of the relevant topic being scrutinised.
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Contact us

  • Overview and Scrutiny Team
    London Borough of Newham
    Newham Dockside
    1000 Dockside Road
    London
    E16 2QU