Constitution - Part 5C - Overview and Scrutiny procedure rules



Guiding Principle

1.1 Overview and Scrutiny should involve constructive criticism with the aim of improving decision-making.   Although some work (particularly call-in) could potentially be adversarial in a political environment, the emphasis should be on making a positive contribution to the development of policy and performance.

1.2 Overview and Scrutiny will review Cabinet decisions through the "call in" mechanism, but importantly, it will also assist in the development of policy by looking at existing policies and their effectiveness, and reviewing whether new policies or changes to existing policies are needed.

Overview and Scrutiny Boards

1.3 The Council has a number of Scrutiny Advisory Boards, a Health Scrutiny Committee and a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Scrutiny Board.  The Boards may, appoint sub-committees, but will normally work through "Task and Finish groups" - (see paragraph 4 and 9 for more information).

1.4 The Scrutiny Management Board has overall responsibility for the direction and management of Overview and Scrutiny. The Board's terms of reference are set out in paragraph 15.

Matters within the remit of more than one Overview and Scrutiny Advisory Board

1.5 Where a matter falls within the remit of one or more Scrutiny Advisory Board, the decision as to which Board will consider it will be decided by the Scrutiny Management Board.

Officer Support

1.6 Officers of the County Council owe a duty to support and advise all members.  Although, most of the day to day work of Corporate Directors will be advising members of the Cabinet, this does not reduce the importance of their work for Overview and Scrutiny.  This means that:

(a) There is a presumption that  Executive Directors who have been asked to prepare papers for Scrutiny should brief the Chair before the meeting unless he/ she is to be questioned on their advice on a matter which has been called in;  and

(b) Work on issues referred to Scrutiny by the Cabinet should be supported by the relevant Executive Director.

(c) A nominated officer will be available to support the scrutiny role from a service perspective.

(d) Papers should be produced  for the Scrutiny Committee, with the early involvement of the Chair and Vice-Chair.

1.7 Dedicated capacity to support the Scrutiny function will be provided by the Policy and Scrutiny team.

2.1 Overview and Scrutiny's role in the development of the Council's Budget and Policy Framework is set out in the Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules.

2.2 Three of the key roles for Scrutiny are policy review, policy development and scrutiny.  In relation to these Scrutiny Boards may:

(a) Review and scrutinise the decisions and performance of the Cabinet and/or Committees and Council Officers, both in relation to individual decisions and over time;

(b) Assist the Council and the Cabinet in the development of its Budget and Policy Framework by in-depth analysis of policy issues;

(c) Conduct research, community and other consultation in the analysis of policy issues and possible options;

(d) Review and scrutinise the performance of the Council in relation to its policy objectives, performance targets, and/or particular service areas;

(e) Question Members of the Cabinet and/or Committees and Corporate Directors about their decisions and performance, whether generally in comparison with Service Plans and targets over a period of time, or in relation to particular decisions, initiatives, or projects;

(f) Review and scrutinise the performance of other public bodies in the area, and invite reports from them by requesting them to address the Scrutiny Board and local people about their activities and performance

(g) Make recommendations to the Cabinet and/or appropriate Committees and/or Council arising from the outcome of the scrutiny process;

2.3 Providing the necessary budget is available, Scrutiny Boards may hold inquiries and investigate options for future policy development including:

(a) The appointment of advisors to assist the process

(b) Undertaking site visits

(c) Conducting public surveys or holding public meetings

(d) Commissioning research or interview witnesses

(e) Any other matter which can reasonably assist their deliberations

(f) Pay any reasonable expenses to witnesses or and users

3.1 All councillors, (except members of the Cabinet), may be members of a Scrutiny Board or Task and Finish group.  However, no member may be involved in scrutinising a decision in which he/she has been directly involved.

3.2 The Scrutiny Management Board shall comprise between 11 and 14 non-executive members, including the chairs and vice chairs of the three Scrutiny Advisory Boards and the Chair of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee.  Substitutes are not permitted.

3.3 The LEP Scrutiny Board shall comprise between 11 and 14 non-executive members of the County Council and six members co-opted by the Committee, one from each of the District Councils in Cumbria.

3.4 It is the Council's intention that the County Council members appointed to the LEP Scrutiny Board shall be the same members as the members appointed to the Scrutiny Management Board. 

4.1 Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Scrutiny Advisory Boards will be drawn from among the members sitting on the Scrutiny Advisory Board,   and will be appointed by the County Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 1.4. 

4.2 The Chair and Vice Chair of the LEP Scrutiny Board will be the members appointed as the Chair and Vice Chair of Scrutiny Management Board who are appointed annually in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 1.1(h). 

4.3 No member receiving Special Responsibility Allowance for a function may chair an Advisory Board or Task and Finish Group dealing with that function.

5.1 Scrutiny Management Board will normally meet bi-monthly.

5.2 There will normally be four ordinary meetings of Scrutiny Advisory Boards in each year.   Extraordinary meetings may be called from time to time.  

5.3 There will normally be two ordinary meetings of the LEP Scrutiny Board.  Extraordinary meetings may be called from time to time. 

5.4 A meeting of the Management Board or of one of the Advisory Boards may be called by the relevant chair, by any five members of the Board or by the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services if he/she considers it necessary or appropriate.

5.5   If a member of a Scrutiny Board is subject to a Party Whip, the member must declare the existence of the Whip, and the nature of it, before the commencement of the Board's deliberations on the matter.  The declaration, and the detail of the whipping arrangements, shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

6.1 Scrutiny Boards shall consider the following business:

(a) Minutes of the last meeting;

(b) Declarations of interest;

(c) Consideration of any matter referred to the Board for a decision in relation to call-in of a decision; 

(d) Responses of the Cabinet (and in the case of the LEP Scrutiny Board, the LEP) to reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Board;  and

(e) Any other business set out on the agenda for the meeting.

6.2 Where the Scrutiny Board conducts investigations (e.g. with a view to policy development), the Board may also ask people to attend to give evidence at Board meetings which are to be conducted in accordance with the following principles:

(a) That the investigation be conducted fairly, and all members of the Board be given the opportunity to ask questions of attendees, and to contribute and speak;

(b) That those giving evidence be treated with respect and courtesy;  and

(c) That the investigation be conducted so as to maximise the efficiency of the investigation or analysis.

6.3 Following any investigation or review, the Board shall prepare a report, for submission to the Cabinet and/or Council as appropriate, and shall make its report and findings public.  

6.4 The LEP Scrutiny Board shall prepare a report for submission to the Cabinet and/or the LEP as appropriate and shall make its report and findings public.

6.5 Cabinet Members should not attend meetings of Scrutiny as participants as a matter of course, but may request the Chair of the Scrutiny Board to allow them to attend and speak on a particular item; the final decision rests with the Chair of the Scrutiny Board.

7.1 Scrutiny Advisory Boards and the LEP Scrutiny Board will be responsible for contributing to one overall Scrutiny work programme, which should also take into account the wishes of members on that Committee who are not members of the largest political group on the Council.

7.2 The Scrutiny Management Board must report annually to full Council on the work of Overview and Scrutiny, and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods if appropriate.

8.1 Any member of a Scrutiny Board, or any five members of the Council who are not members of a Scrutiny Board, has a right to ensure that any item relevant to the Scrutiny Board is placed on the agenda and discussed at a meeting of the relevant Board.  This right should be used in a constructive way and not to challenge a decision properly taken (for example, to repeat a debate carried out at a previous meeting within the last six months) or as a means for a member to obtain information for which other methods are available.

8.2 Any member wishing to have an item included on an agenda must give notice of the item to the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services not later than 10 working days before the date of the next scheduled ordinary meeting, .specifying the key issues and the purpose and object of bringing the matter before the committee.  The requirement of 10 days' notice may be waived in exceptional circumstances where an item is urgent.

8.3 The Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services will consult the relevant Chair who will determine which meeting the item should be considered at having regard to the weight of business, the Board's agreed programme of work and the urgency and importance of the item brought forward by the member.  In determining the importance and urgency of the item the Chair shall have regard to the views of the member and to such factors as whether:

(a) The item relates to a significant variation to the Council's budget;

(b) The item involves a significant departure from or change to the Council's Policy Framework; 

(c) The item involves any significant propriety or probity issues;

(d) Because of the urgent nature of the business, including any deadlines for decisions or action, consideration cannot be deferred to a future meeting;

(e) The item relates to an Education matter in respect of which Education representatives will be required to attend the meeting.

8.4 The item may not be deferred for longer than one scheduled meeting after receipt of the item by the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services.

8.5 The relevant Chair may reject items which are not relevant to the specific functions of Scrutiny.  In particular items which seek to debate rather than to review or scrutinise the decisions or performance of the Cabinet, committees or officers of the County Council or which take the place of the statutory and constitutional management role of the Cabinet or seek to obtain information may be rejected.  In the latter case the member will be referred to the appropriate member of the Cabinet, Executive Director or Proper Officer.  Where items are rejected under this process the Chair shall report the matter to the next meeting of the Scrutiny Board.

8.6 Members requesting that items be placed on a Scrutiny Board agenda do not have a right to request the preparation of detailed reports by officers.  However the relevant Scrutiny Board does have the right to request the provision of information or reports to enable the item to be properly considered.  

8.7 These provisions shall apply equally to notice seeking the inclusion of items received from five members of the Council who are not members of Scrutiny as they apply to such notice received from a member of a Scrutiny Board.

8.8 Each Advisory Board will normally seek to reach agreement by consensus, but if it cannot agree on one single final report to the Council or Cabinet, as appropriate, then up to one minority report may be prepared and submitted for consideration by the Council or Cabinet with the majority report.

8.9 The Council, Cabinet shall consider the report of a Scrutiny Board within two months of it being submitted to the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services. 

8.10 The foregoing provisions of this section 8 do not apply to the LEP Scrutiny Board.  The Chair of the Scrutiny Management Board/LEP Scrutiny Board shall determine the agenda for the LEP Scrutiny Board.

9.1 Task and Finish Groups are key to enabling Overview and Scrutiny to make a positive contribution to the development and review of policy.

9.2 Task and Finish Groups are member groups set up for a specific and time limited purpose.  Each Advisory Board will develop a work programme subject to approval by Scrutiny Management Board. 

9.3 The following key points shall apply to the Group:-

(a) Any member of the Council can serve on a Group, except a Cabinet Member.  Substitutes are not permitted.

(b) The membership of a task group is not required to be politically proportionate, but will normally be multi-party and include at least one member from the commissioning Advisory Board.

(c) Normally the Group will consist of a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 members, except in exceptional circumstances, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the parent Scrutiny Board may agree additional membership 

(d) If a task group is oversubscribed the Scrutiny team will summarise: 

(i) Members' interest/experience in the subject.

(ii) The geographical spread of members interested in participating.

(iii) The number of reviews members have previously taken part in.

(iv) The political group the member represents. 

(e) The Chair of the parent Scrutiny Board will review this, in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Scrutiny Management Board, and will select a balanced task group of 3-5 members.

(f) The Chair of a Task and Finish group will be appointed by the Task Group members.

(g) The Group is not a formal sub-committee, and can advise and recommend but not make decisions.

(h) The Group will have clear objectives and terms of reference for a specific time-limited scrutiny review. The Group's work will be supported by a detailed project plan which has been approved by the Scrutiny Management Board.

(i) The work undertaken will form part of a programme approved by the Scrutiny Management Board.

(j) The Group can meet in private and informally.

(k) The Group's completed draft final report shall be approved by Scrutiny Management Board before it goes to the Cabinet for consideration, except in cases of urgency where draft final reports can be considered by the appropriate Advisory Board Chair and Chair/Vice Chair of SMB outside the scheduled Board meetings

(l) The completed draft report of a Task and Finish group set up by the Health Scrutiny Committee shall be approved by that Committee.

(m) At Cabinet, the Group's report will be presented by the Chair of the Task Group or the Chair of the relevant Advisory Board.

(n) The relevant Advisory Board, will receive monitoring reports on the implementation of any proposals agreed by the Cabinet.

(o) The normal Access to Information Rules will apply to the Group's report.

10.1 Scrutiny Board reports referred to the Cabinet will be considered within two months of the Scrutiny Board completing its report/recommendations.

10.2 Once a Scrutiny Board has completed its deliberations on any matter, it will forward a copy of its final report to the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services who will allocate it to either or both the Cabinet and the Council for consideration, according to whether the contents of the report would have implications for the Council's Budget and Policy Framework.  If the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services refers a Scrutiny Board report to Council, he/she will also serve a copy on the Leader, with notice that the matter is to be referred to Council.  The Cabinet will have three weeks in which to respond to the Overview and Scrutiny report, and the Council will not consider it within that period.  When the Council does meet to consider any referral from an Overview and Scrutiny Board on a matter which would impact on the Budget and Policy Framework, it shall also consider the response of the Cabinet to the Overview and Scrutiny proposals.

10.3 Where the Cabinet proposes to adopt, or recommend adoption of, the recommendations of a Scrutiny Board, in whole or in part, it shall agree or submit to the Council for approval an action plan for implementing the Board's recommendations.  The action plan shall set out clearly what action is proposed, who is responsible for implementation and the timescale within which the action(s) is/are to be taken.  A copy of the Cabinet's proposals will be sent to the Scrutiny Management Board for information.

10.4 It shall be the Cabinet's responsibility to implement any action plan approved by them or adopted by the Council, but the Cabinet will submit regular progress reports to the Scrutiny Management Board.

10.5 Scrutiny Boards will have access to the Cabinet's Forward Plan and timetable for decisions and intentions for consultation.  Even where an item is not the subject of detailed proposals from an Overview and Scrutiny Board following a consideration of possible policy/service developments, the Board will at least be able to respond in the course of the Cabinet's consultation process in relation to any key decision.

11.1 Any Scrutiny Board (except the LEP Scrutiny Board) may scrutinise and review decisions made, or actions taken, in connection with the discharge of any Council functions.  As well as reviewing documentation, it may require any member of the Cabinet, the Head of Paid Service, Executive Director or Assistant Director to attend before it to explain, in relation to matters within their remit:

(a) Any particular decision or series of decisions;

(b) The extent to which the actions taken implement Council policy;  and/or

(c) Their performance; and it is the duty of those persons to attend if so required.

11.2 Where any member or officer of the County Council is required to attend a Scrutiny Board under this provision, the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services, will inform the member or officer in writing, giving at least 14 working days' notice of the meeting at which he/she is required to attend.  The notice will state the nature of the item on which he/she is required to attend, and whether any papers are required to be produced for the Board.  Where the matter would require the production of a report, then the member or officer concerned will be given sufficient notice to allow for its preparation.

11.3 If, in exceptional circumstances, the member or officer is unable to attend on the required date, then the Scrutiny Board will, in consultation with the member or officer, arrange an alternative date for attendance.

11.4 Where someone requested to attend is genuinely unable to be at the meeting and an alternative date is not practicable, then in the case of a Cabinet member, another Cabinet member nominated by the Leader shall attend in his or her place, and in the case of an officer, another officer who is able to speak on the topic under consideration shall attend.  The Chair of a Scrutiny Board may seek the advice of the Council's Monitoring Officer on whether the requirements of Rule 11.1 are met in the event of the member or officer requested giving notice that they are unable to attend.

11.5 Papers submitted by speakers will become public documents once they have presented their evidence and shall be cited as background papers to the Scrutiny Board's published report.

11.6 When Cumbria County officers appear to answer questions their evidence should, as far as possible, be confined to questions of fact and explanation relating to policies and decisions.  Officers may be asked to explain and justify advice they have given to members of the Cabinet prior to decisions being taken, and they should also be asked to explain and justify decisions they themselves have taken under delegations from the Cabinet.  Officers shall not be required to give personal opinion on any Cabinet decision taken following advice from officers.

11.7 All speakers will be treated with courtesy and respect, and all questions to witnesses will be made in an orderly manner as directed by the Chair of the meeting.

12.1 A Scrutiny Board (including the LEP Scrutiny Board) may invite people other than those people referred to in paragraph 11 above to address it, discuss issues of local concern, and/or answer questions.  It may, for example, wish to hear from residents, stakeholders, and members and officers in partner organisations as well as other parts of the public sector.  Any such individual cannot however, be required to attend a meeting.

13.1 Overview and Scrutiny should only use the power to refer matters to the Council in exceptional circumstances where members of the appropriate Scrutiny Management Board have evidence which suggests that the Cabinet did not take the decision in accordance with the decision making principles set out in Part 2 of the Constitution. 

13.2 When a decision is made by the Cabinet, or a Local Committee, or under joint arrangements, or a key decision is made by an officer, the decision shall be published, and shall be available at the main offices of the Council normally within three clear working days of being made.  All Members of the Council will be sent copies of the records of all such decisions, by the person responsible for publishing the decision.

13.3 The notice will include its date of publication and will specify that the decision will come into force, and may then be implemented, on the expiry of five working days after the publication of the decision, unless the decision is called in.

13.4 During that period, any three or more non-Cabinet members may notify the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services in writing that they wish to call in a decision for scrutiny. If a valid request to do so is received Cabinet and the decision taker will be notified of the call-in.  The Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services will then call a meeting of the Scrutiny Management Board where possible after consultation with the Chair of the Board.  The call-in meeting shall normally be held within 14 working days of receipt of notification of the decision to call in (but, exceptionally, following consultation with the call-in members, and provided the relevant Cabinet Member agrees that such delay would be reasonable in all the circumstances and would not prejudice the County Council's interests, the call-in meeting may be held within 17 working days.  If the Cabinet Member does not so agree, the meeting must take place within 14 working days).

13.5 If, having considered the decision, the Scrutiny Management Board is still concerned about it, then it may refer it back to the decision making person or body for reconsideration, setting out in writing the nature of its concerns, or, if it considers the decision to be contrary to the Budget or Policy Framework, refer the matter to full Council (see paragraph 7 of the Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules in Part 5E of this Constitution).  If referred to the decision maker, they shall then reconsider within a further 14 working days, (or, exceptionally, such longer period not to exceed 17 working days, as may be agreed by the decision making person or the Chair of the decision making body).  The decision maker shall then reconsider the decision, amending or not, before reaching a final decision.

13.6 If, within 14 days, the Scrutiny Management Board does not meet, or does meet but does not refer the matter back to the decision maker, then the decision will take effect on either the date of the Scrutiny meeting, or the expiry of the 14 working day period.

13.7 If the matter was referred to full Council, and the Council does not object to a decision which has been made, then no further action is necessary, and the decision will be effective on the date of the Council meeting.  However, if the Council does object, it has no authority to make decisions in respect of an Cabinet decision unless it is contrary to the Policy Framework, or contrary to, or not wholly consistent with, the Budget.  Unless that is the case, the Council will refer any decision to which it objects back to the decision making person or body, together with the Council's views on the decision.  That decision making body or person shall choose whether to amend the decision or not before reaching a final decision and implementing it.  Where the decision was taken by the Cabinet as a whole, or a committee of it, a meeting will be convened to reconsider within 14 working days of the Council request.  Where the decision was made by an individual, the individual will reconsider within 14 working days of the Council request.

13.8 If the Council does not meet, the decision will become effective on the expiry of the period in which the Council meeting should have been held.

13.9 The role of Scrutiny Management Board in calling-in a decision before it is finalised, is:

(a) To test the merits of the decision.

(b) To consider the process followed in reaching a decision.

(c) To make recommendations (to support the decision, change aspects of the decision or to invite the decision maker to re-consider).

(d) To suggest further steps before a decision is made (but not to try to carry out those steps in place of the decision maker).

(e) To recommend to the decision making committee or body the matter be dealt with at full County Council, or to recommend directly to full County Council if the Committee believe the matter to be contrary to the Budget and Policy Framework.

(f) To come to a view in a relatively short time scale, so as not to compromise the speed and efficiency of the decision-making process.

13.10 The call-in mechanism is an important part of the decision-making process, and is designed to test the merits of the decision and to ensure that members have an opportunity to recommend change, reconsideration or deferral.  The call-in mechanism is not:

(a) A judicial or quasi-judicial process, or a public inquiry;

(b) An extended examination of areas only remotely connected to the actual decision;

(c) An open house for anyone to attend and make representations.

13.11 The three or more non-Cabinet members requesting the call-in must submit their joint request in writing or by e-mail to the Executive Director - Corporate Customer and Community Services, giving reasons for requesting that the matter be called in and identifying a Lead Member.  It is not sufficient for the call-in notice simply to state that the members concerned wish to test the merits of a decision.  The notice must specify which aspect or aspects of the decision the members wish to question or challenge.  This is important because it will allow those summoned to the call-in meeting the opportunity to prepare adequately beforehand and to provide further information as necessary to clarify or explain the reasons for the decision.  

13.12 The Monitoring Officer may rule that a call-in request is not valid only in the limited circumstances below:

(a) That the call-in request has not been made within five working days of publication (or three days in relation to final decisions on school organisation proposals).

(b) That the call-in request has not been made by at least three members.

(c) That it is not clear which Cabinet decision is being called in.

(d) That the decision is exempt from call-in on account of the urgency provisions.

13.13 A call-in may only be withdrawn with the agreement of the three members submitting the request in the first instance.  

13.14 A decision can only be called in once.  If, however, the Cabinet substantially amends the original proposal in a way which the Scrutiny Management Board has not considered nor could reasonably have foreseen, to the extent that in reality it is a different decision, the Board has the right to call it in again.

Call-in:  in the role of the Chair of Scrutiny Management Board

13.16 The Chair of the Board should undertake preliminary enquiries and/or consultations before the meeting in order to:

(a) Clarify the matters to be examined by the Board;

(b) Consider the recorded views of those who have already been consulted or involved before the decision was taken;

(c) Form an opinion as to what further papers, if any, should be made available to the Board;

(d) Decide who should be invited to explain the decision.

(e) Decide whether the call in letter requires additional detail or clarification

13.17 In most circumstances the Chair of the Scrutiny Management Board should meet the lead call-in member and the Cabinet Member with appropriate officers before the meeting to clarify if an informal resolution is possible without the need to hold a formal call in meeting.  During this meeting if it is clear that informal resolution is not possible the Chair should come to a view on the matters above.  This is to ensure that so far as possible any areas of disagreement are discussed fully beforehand and valuable time is not spent at the meeting itself on matters of process and procedure.  if the meeting does not result in agreement between the Chair, the lead call-in member and the Cabinet Member then the Chair will propose a course of action to the Board at the beginning of the call in meeting for them to consider and decide the way forward.

Call-in:  Arrangements for the Scrutiny Management Board

13.18 The representative of the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services will confirm attendance and the arrangements with those invited to attend.   It will be the responsibility of the relevant Cabinet Member or the Chair or Vice-Chair of the Local Committee as appropriate to attend the Scrutiny Management Board to explain the reasons for the decision.  The relevant Executive Director (or the lead one, if two or more are involved) will be responsible for co-ordinating officers to explain the advice given to the Cabinet or the Local Committee and to provide further background information.

13.19 Papers will be despatched as soon as possible with notice of the date and time when the matter is to be considered.   An agenda with a full set of papers will be despatched no less than five working days before the meeting.

13.20 The agenda should include:

(a) The proposal and supporting papers submitted to the decision-taker. 

(b) A list of background papers to the proposal.

(c) The minute of the decision.

(d) The request for the call-in.

(e) The reasons given by the requestors for the call-in.

(f) Any other papers that the members requesting the call-in identify.  Background papers listed in the report to the decision-taker will not routinely be included in the agenda unless requested.

(g) The issues to be considered, unless those have not been decided by the time the agenda is despatched, in which case a supplementary note will be sent out as soon as possible. (N.B. The Board will not be restricted to this list of issues, but care will need to be taken at the meeting in allowing other matters to be raised, if there is a likelihood that further work will be needed).An indication as to whether further papers are likely (e.g. from the Cabinet member or third party)

(h) The persons to be invited to attend to answer questions on the issues before the Board and the order in which they will appear.

13.21 If, late papers become available after the normal agenda despatch date, they must be made available to all members of the Board as far in advance of the meeting as possible.  Where papers become available on the day of the meeting, the Board will decide whether to accept them and, if they do accept them, whether to adjourn to read them.

13.22 Any other issues concerning the conduct of the meeting arising between the date of the call-in and the date of the Scrutiny Management Board will be dealt with by the Chair of the Board in consultation with the Lead Member requesting the call-in, with any necessary officer advice/support.

Call-in:  The Meeting

13.23 In most circumstances it will be appropriate to hold an informal meeting at least thirty minutes before the meeting.  With the Scrutiny Officer and representatives of the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services present, members will:

(a) Read any last minute papers;

(b) Consider relevant issues;

(c) Consider how sensitive issues should be managed, and how any new issues, might be handled;

(d) Note how the Chair intends to conduct the meeting;

(e) Consider questions to be asked of witnesses.

The purpose of the pre-meeting is purely to discuss and arrange procedural matters, not to discuss the merits of the issue.

13.24 The Board meeting should start promptly at the publicised time.

13.25 The three call-in members will have a maximum period of 15 minutes to present their arguments, (which may be extended at the Chair's discretion).  How the 15 minute period (or any extension) is allocated between the three members is a matter for the lead call-in member to determine.  He/she may wish to speak for the whole period or allow colleagues to contribute.

13.26 In most circumstances the meeting and all papers submitted to the Board should be open to the press and public.  It may be necessary however to exclude the press and public to deal with "exempt" or confidential matters.  This may be important not only on the day, to stop the disclosure to the press and public of exempt material but also to stop subsequent access to files on such matters.  Any time spent in private session should be kept to a minimum.   Exempt material in reports should be organised if possible into an appendix, so that the rest of the report can be available to the press and public.

13.27 Even though the press and public may have to be excluded, it may not be necessary to exclude all those invited to attend. Normally they should all be allowed to remain, to ensure the transparency of the process carried out in confidential session.  Exceptionally it may be necessary to invite parties to advise the Scrutiny Management Board one at a time, if that is the only way in which the confidentiality of the material can be properly protected.  That will usually mean officers who have advised the decision maker on this issue remaining to answer questions from the Board, in the absence of other parties.  It will be important however:

(a) for this to be carefully explained to others, preferably in public before the resolution to exclude the press and public is passed;

(b) to limit the scope of that advice strictly to the confidential material, and not to allow it to range into advice on the general merits of the issue when others could properly have been allowed to be present.

13.28 Members may wish to adjourn in order to have the opportunity to pause to review papers and evidence in hand.  It will be quite proper in those circumstances to adjourn.  It will be important to explain carefully the reasons for the adjournment in public and that no one will be given an unfair advantage.  If during that time members of a Board wish to reconsider or clarify any point, then the Board should reconvene in public or (if in Part II) with everyone present who has been invited to attend.

13.29 During an adjournment the Board may wish to have assistance in formulating their view for announcement in public.  If so, they should invite the representative of the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services to assist in that process.

Call-in:  The Scrutiny Management Board's View, Recommendations to the Cabinet, or to County Council

13.30 The Scrutiny Management Board has to balance the need on the one hand for decisions not to be unreasonably delayed and, for matters called-in to be properly discussed and debated.  Normally consideration of a call-in will be dealt with at a single meeting but, exceptionally, there may be circumstances where this is not possible.  If the Board agrees that further investigation or information is required, the Cabinet may agree to extend the time in which a final view may be expressed if, in their opinion, delay would not be prejudicial to the County Council's interests.

13.31 Where the Scrutiny Management Board refers a matter back to Cabinet for further consideration, and the Cabinet reaffirms its original decision, the Cabinet shall give reasons to the Board for its decision.  


13.32 The power to call-in should not be abused nor cause unreasonable delay.  A small number of limitations have therefore been agreed on its use.  These are:

(a) The call-in procedure shall not apply where the decision being taken by the Cabinet is urgent that is any delay caused by the call-in process would seriously prejudice the Council's or the public's interests.  The record of the decision, must state whether, in the opinion of the decision maker, the decision is an urgent one, and therefore not subject to call in.  The Chair of the relevant Scrutiny Board must agree that the decision proposed is reasonable in all the circumstances, and to it being treated as a matter of urgency.  In the absence of the Chair of that Board, the consent of the Chair or Vice-Chair of Council shall be required.  In the absence of both, the Head of Paid Service or his/her nominee's consent shall be required.  Decisions taken as a matter of urgency must be reported to the next available meeting of the Council, together with the reasons for urgency.

(b) The call-in timescales have been shortened for final decisions in relation to school organisation matters only, at the stage at which the Cabinet considers representations made following publication of a statutory notice setting out the Council's proposals and makes a final decision as to whether to implement the proposals.  The timescales have been shortened specifically to ensure that the Council is able to take this final decision within the two month statutory timescale.  The normal timescales continue to apply to the consideration of school organisation matters at earlier stages.  For the final decision only therefore the timescales are:

(i) the Cabinet's decision notice or minute be issued to all members no later than three working days after the Cabinet's meeting;

(ii) the period during which the decision may be called in be three working days after the issue of the decision notice or minute;

(iii) a Scrutiny Management Board meeting convened to consider the call-in of the decision be held within seven working days of the receipt of the call-in notice;

(iv) where the Scrutiny Management Board refers the decision back to the Cabinet for further consideration the Cabinet's meeting be held within a further seven working days.

14.1 Members have the right to call for debate and discussion at a Board on a topic of neighbourhood concern.  This power is known as the Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) and is limited to issues affecting single council divisions.

14.2 Members have a right to refer a local government matter not just to the scrutiny committee of their authority, but in the case of a two-tier area like Cumbria, to the committees of the relevant district/borough or County overview and scrutiny committee, irrespective of whether they are a member of that authority.

14.3 CCfA is designed to sit alongside existing member channels for resolving local issues.  However, before an issue of concern can be submitted to a scrutiny board certain criteria have to be met which ensures that existing channels for resolution have been fully tested.  These criteria are set out in a joint County/District Protocol for Cumbria.

Committee / PanelScope
Scrutiny Management Board


The Scrutiny Management Board has strategic responsibility for the Overview and Scrutiny function.  The Board has overall responsibility for the direction and management of Overview and Scrutiny so as to ensure that non-executive members make an effective contribution to the improvement and development of Council and other public services for the benefit of the people of Cumbria.  Within this context the Board has the following specific responsibilities:

(1) to oversee and manage the Council's scrutiny process;

(2) to take an overview of use of resources, policy development and performance;

(3) to have responsibility to approve one overall scrutiny work programme (except for the Health Scrutiny Committee);

(4) to monitor the County Council's Forward Plan of Key Decisions;

(5) to have overall responsibility for the commissioning of task and finish work (except for joint scrutiny committees and the Health Scrutiny Committee);

(6) to undertake regular dialogue at Scrutiny Management Board meetings with corporate directors and cabinet members;

(7) to consider scrutiny referrals from county councillors, local committees and other sources at service and community level;

(8) to oversee the co-ordination of scrutiny members learning and development;

(9) to undertake quality control of scrutiny procedures including outputs and added value;

(10) to consider any Councillor Calls for Action which do not fall within the terms of reference of one of the Scrutiny Advisory Boards;

(11)   to consider any call-in of a decision made by the Cabinet, or a Committee of the Cabinet, or a Local Committee, or under joint arrangements, or a key decision made by a Corporate Director.


Between 11 and 14 Members excluding Members of the Cabinet, including the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the three Scrutiny Advisory Boards and the Chair of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee.  Substitutes are not permitted.

Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Scrutiny Board


To review and scrutinise:

i. strategic decisions of the LEP;

ii. the LEP's progress and performance in delivery programmes under the management of the LEP;

iii. the delivery by the LEP of its strategies. 


Between 11 and 14 Members excluding Members of the Cabinet, including the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the three Scrutiny Advisory Boards and the Chair of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee.  Substitutes are not permitted.

A Maximum of 6 co-opted members, one nominated from each of the six District Councils in Cumbria. Co-opted members of the LEP Scrutiny Board shall be entitled to speak and vote at meetings of the LEP Scrutiny Board in accordance with a Scheme ("The Scheme of Voting Rights for Co-opted Members of the Local Enterprise Partnership Scrutiny Board") made by the Council on 11 April 2019.

There are no substitute members of this committee.

Children and Young People's Scrutiny Advisory BoardAll the powers and duties of the County Council relating to children and young people.


Between 11 and 13 members, excluding members of the Cabinet.

The Scrutiny Advisory Board for Children and Young People shall include in its membership the following voting representatives:

(a) Church of England diocese representative (1);

(b) Roman Catholic diocese representative (1); and

Parent Governor representatives (3).

If the Scrutiny Advisory Board deals with other than Education matters, these representatives shall not vote on those other matters, though they may stay in the meeting and speak.
Adults Scrutiny Advisory BoardAll the powers and duties of the County Council relating to adults.


Between 11 and 13 members, excluding members of the Cabinet.
Communities and Place Scrutiny Advisory BoardAll the powers and duties of the County Council relating to safer/stronger and inclusive communities and planning, highways, the environment and economic regeneration.


Between 11 and 13 members, excluding members of the Cabinet.
Cumbria Health  Scrutiny Committee• To discharge the functions conferred on the Authority by Section 244 of the National Health Service Act 2006 and any regulations made thereunder, matters relating to the planning, provision and operation of health services in Cumbria.

• To make reports and recommendations on matters relating to the health service in Cumbria to local NHS bodies and to the Council (including the health and wellbeing of Cumbria's population).

• To act as consultee as required by the relevant regulations in respect of those matters on which local NHS bodies must consult the Authority.

• To report annually on its work to the County Council and all the district councils.

• To consider and respond to referrals from the Cumbria Health Watch on health matters under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 as amended by the Social Care Act 2012.


7 County Council and 6 District Council Members.
Cumbria and Lancashire Joint Health Scrutiny Committee

Overall function of the Joint Committee

To discharge the health scrutiny functions of Cumbria and Lancashire County Councils in relation to any proposals made by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS FT (UHMBT) regarding any cross boundary substantial variations in service provision as they arise.

Specific functions and powers of the Joint Committee

Taking account of the Department of Health Guidance on Health Overview and Scrutiny:

1. To scrutinise proposals of UHMBT regarding any cross boundary substantial variations in services, including their evidence base.

2. To ensure that the evidence and views of service users, carers and public interests have been considered in the proposals.

3. To consult with, and take evidence from witnesses as appropriate.

4. To prepare, agree and publish the findings of the Joint Committee, setting out the evidence examined and any recommendations considered appropriate.  This report will be taken to each of the main Cumbria and Lancashire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees for information.


The Joint Committee shall consist of 8 members, of whom:

• 4 shall be  elected representatives on the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

o of these 1 shall be the South Lakeland District Councillor representative on the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

o 1 shall be the Barrow Borough Councillor representative on the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

• 4 shall be  elected representatives of Lancashire  County Council

o Of these at least one shall be a County Councillor representing a division in the Lancaster  City Council area

Chair and Vice Chair

The Committee shall elect its own chair and vice chair.


Each of the eight representatives on the Committee shall have equal voting rights.


Substitution shall be permitted according to the arrangements in force within the Cumbria County Council (for Cumbria members) and Lancashire County Council (for Lancashire members).


A quorum shall comprise 3 members of the Joint Committee, of whom at least one shall be from the Cumbria Scrutiny Committee and one from Lancashire County Council.

Frequency of meetings

The Joint Committee shall meet in public on an ad hoc basis to consider substantial variations in service provision as they occur, the frequency of which shall be agreed by members of the Joint Committee.  On conclusion of the review the Joint Committee shall cease to meet.  It will be reinstated as and when further cross boundary substantial variations in service are being proposed. 

Referral to the Secretary of State

In the case of contested NHS proposals for substantial service changes or any NHS proposal which the Joint Committee feels has been the subject of inadequate consultation, by majority agreement, the Joint Committee to have delegated authority to directly refer the matter to the relevant Secretary of State.

That in relation to the function described above, any Joint Committee decision on whether or not a referral should be made to the relevant Secretary of State is not required to be approved by the individual Overview and Scrutiny Committees at those local authorities that may be directly affected by the decision. However the Joint Committee's power of referral does not remove, supersede or negate the power and authority of each individual Overview and Scrutiny Committee to make a referral to the Secretary to State should they wish to do so.


Administrative and research support will be provided by the Scrutiny Units of Cumbria and Lancashire County Councils, working together.

16.1 The Committee is an Overview and Scrutiny Committee appointed by the Council but which includes a co-opted Scrutiny member from each District Council in Cumbria.

16.2 The County Council will appoint:-

  • Seven members from the County Council.  (Each political group to name a pool of additional members, any of whom may substitute for an appointed member from the same group.  The number of members in the pool to be twice the number of that group's proportional allocation of members on the Committee).
  • Six District Council members, one co-opted from each District Council in Cumbria.  (Each District Council to nominate one of its members for appointment and name two other members, either of whom may act as a substitute for the appointed member).

16.3 All the above appointed members or a member substituting for an appointed member at a meeting shall be entitled to vote.  No member may act as a substitute unless he/she has been named in accordance with the above arrangements.

16.4 The Committee shall be entitled to co-opt non-members as non-voting co-optees as it thinks fit for a particular matter that is subject to scrutiny.

16.5 The Chair shall be drawn from the County Council members and shall be elected annually only by those members appointed by the County Council.

16.6 The Vice-Chair shall be drawn from the District Council members and shall be elected annually only by those members appointed by the district councils.

16.7 Nothing in Rules 16.5 or 16.6 above shall prevent the election of a Chair for a meeting by all members present in the absence of the Chair and Vice-Chair.

16.8 The Committee may appoint one or more sub-committees of County and District members and may arrange for the discharge of its functions by any such Sub-Committee, provided that the scope of the Sub-Committee's remit is clearly defined.  This may be appropriate for single issues affecting the County as a whole or a more local issue affecting only a part of the County.  In any such case the Committee will require a report from the Sub-Committee at the conclusion of its work.  The Committee will determine the appropriateness and extent of co-option of non-local authority members to Sub-Committees when it defines the Sub-Committee's remit.

16.9 The Committee may set up task and finish groups.

16.10 The arrangements as to voting and chairmanship that apply to the main Committee shall apply to any Sub-Committee.  Potential substitute members named for the purpose of the main Committee may substitute for an appointed member of any Sub-Committee.

16.11 The Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules shall apply to the work of the Committee with any necessary amendments.